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Posts Tagged ‘flu vaccine’

Simple Suds for Staying Healthy

Sunday, October 24th, 2010

Want to stay healthy? Wash your hands!

Our last blog post focused on the winter flu and other ailments. We also discussed the benefits of flu vaccines as a compelling form of prevention. Today’s post will investigate other effective ideas to keep you healthy.

One of the simplest ways to stay well is to wash your hands. This easy task is so essential to good health, that the CDC has created an interactive training course focused entirely on hand hygiene.

In the workplace, you touch things all the time. Elevator buttons, door handles, phones, keyboards, there are a host of touch surfaces. To wash hand properly, you need soap. So what exactly is soap? Soap is made by combining essential oils or fats with an alkaline substance such as lye. The two ingredients are heated and mixed together and work to neutralize each other. Fragrance and other materials are also added to the mixture. Then the soap is dried into a mold. Soap works as a detergent and surfactant that mixes with and dissolves oils and dirt so they can be washed down the drain.

Everyone thinks they know how to wash their hands. But few know how to wash them the right way:

What about antibacterial soaps?

Despite aggressive marketing, many studies show that regular soap is as effective for removing germs and bacteria as antibacterial options such as those that contain Triclosan. In addition, most antibacterial soaps need to remain on hands for two or more minutes to take full effect. People who are waiting for a sales meeting aren’t likely to wait that long for their turn at the public restroom sink. And remember, since the common cold is caused by a virus instead of bacteria, antibacterial soaps won’t provide an added benefit for the prevention of colds.

Wash your hands the right way.

Building owners can encourage tenants to wash hands the right way:

  • Hands and forearms should be lathered with soap for at least 15-20 seconds, which is longer than you might think!
  • While warm water is more effective for removing oils from your hands, it is not actually hot enough to “kill” bacteria, which thrives very high temperatures.
  • Proper drying is important not just because no one wants a damp handshake, but also because drying helps remove contaminants that are suspended in water droplets.
  • Encourage washing of hands after restroom use and before and after taking lunch or snack breaks.

Paper Towels and Air Dryers:

Many building owners and facility managers have held debates about the use of air dryer vs. paper towels. While the environmental advantage typically goes to the air-drying option, paper towels take a win in the hygiene department. Paper towels are one-time use and so do not require pressing of a communal button. Also, studies have found that air driers, especially very high-speed models can actually forcefully blow germs up to a few feet.

Alcohol Sanitizers:

Some facility managers have started providing alcohol sanitizing spray or gel sanitizer products for visitors and staff. While this is a good idea, remember that it’s important to remember that hand sanitizers are not as effective as hand washing for removing dirt.

Alcohol-based rubs are a good alternative for sanitation when water isn’t available. Here are some tips for maximizing effectiveness:

  • Apply the right amount – a nickel-sized application is about right.
  • Work quickly. Alcohol evaporates quickly. So rub vigorously to disinfect the front and back of your hands as well as your wrists.
  • Don’t dry off your hands! Much of the germ-killing is accomplished while the alcohol evaporates. So let the sanitizer go to work.

For disease prevention, it’s important to think of Mom’s words: “Don’t forget to wash your hands!” This time-tested advice is especially important in a workplace where common areas increase your odds of picking up or transmitting disease.

When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives.  For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact Allied Universal, Inc. Our new Version 2.0 e-based training system offers the best emergency training system with automated and integrated features. Visit rjwestmore.com for more information and remember to BE SAFE.

Hack! Shiver! Sneeze! Cough!

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

There are steps you can take to ward off the flu.

While winter often brings to mind holiday parties and gift exchanges, it’s also a miserable time for those unfortunate souls who get sick. The typical air inside an office building is circulated less than 12 times an hour, compared to 15 times per hour on a plane. Think about that the next time you worry about getting sick from “stale” cabin air. With flu vaccines resulting in employees taking 45% fewer sick days, more companies are taking notice and getting involved in prevention.

When most people think about winter diseases, the first thing that comes to mind is influenza. It’s estimated that 5 to 20 percent of U.S. adults come down with seasonal flu every year. According to the CDC, 119 million doses of flu vaccine had been distributed this year as of September 24. That amount is a substantial increase of 30 million doses, compared to the amounts which were sent the same time last year. Although analysts at the CDC are predicting a milder flu season this winter, they are still stressing that everyone gets vaccinated.

You may ask, “What about H1N1, the “swine flu?” It’s still out there, although research estimates that 59% of the U.S. population is now immune.

Respiratory Synctial Virus, commonly known as RSV, is another very common lung and respiratory tract infection. It’s so prevalent that researchers state almost all children age two and under have had the disease. While it is the biggest threat to smaller children, and especially premature infants, RSV can also cause problems for adults, sending individuals who have heart or lung disease to the hospital. As a building owner or manager, you can take steps to educate RSV-infected individuals about the benefits of staying at home, away from tenants and employees who are parents of small children.

What can property-owners and managers do to mitigate the effects of winter illness?

  • Set up a flu vaccine clinic at your building. Many private companies will provide qualified nurses, consent forms and the latest vaccine.
  • Distribute information about recognizing the symptoms of flu and other winter diseases.
  • Consider new HVAC systems that better circulate and clean the air.
  • Encourage tenants to adopt policies regarding sick employees, including work-from-home arrangements for vital staff.

A real focus on workplace health can pay immediate and long-term benefits. Healthier employees mean more productive and profitable tenants whose success might necessitate additional office or industrial space.

When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives.  For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact Allied Universal, Inc. Our new Version 2.0 e-based training system offers the best emergency training system with automated and integrated features. Visit rjwestmore.com for more information and remember to BE SAFE.

Swine Flu Swan Song

Friday, October 16th, 2009
Nasal spray

The swine flu nasal spray is not recommended for kids under age 2

As our series on the swine flu winds down, so does the nationwide panic over H1N1, as vaccines and nasal spray are finally readily available throughout the country. Health care providers in California have received more than 400,000 doses of H1N1 FluMist, a nasal spray, as well as thousands of doses of the injectable vaccine.

By the end of flu season, California plans to order over 22 million doses of each. To date, more than 2,700 hospitalizations and 206 deaths in California have been caused by the H1N1 flu since April,  according to Dr. Mark Horton, director of the California Department of Public Health.

Though both vaccines and the nasal spray are safe for most people, and have been thoroughly tested, it is important to know the facts about all of the treatment options before deciding which one to receive.

The following are advised NOT to take the nasal spray:

The inject-able vaccine has far fewer adverse symptoms and so is possibly a safer choice. Check to see whether it is available in your area. Those especially urged to get the vaccine include:

  • Pregnant women
  • Children ages 6-24 months old
  • People who spend time around infants
  • Health care providers
  • Anyone with a chronic illness who is especially susceptible to disease

Something else to consider: One of the swine flu vaccine manufacturers,one of the swine flu vaccine manufacturers, Sanofi Pasteur, suggests that children under age 10 are likely to need two shots to be fully protected. Federal officials said the news is not surprising, since this age group needs two doses of regular seasonal flu vaccine the very first time they ever are given a flu vaccine, for full immunity to develop.

The new Sanofi results back up what government tests are showing, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. For younger children, the protection from one shot is “modest but not sufficient to allow for one dose to do the trick,” he said.

Though the focus should be on high-risk groups, experts recommend that anyone who wants the vaccine should get it, provided there is enough left-over supply for the general population. Since California is expected to receive over 22 millions doses (with 18 million of them being injectable) by the end of flu season, the likelihood of sufficient doses for everyone is very high.

Remember, obtaining either the nasal spray or vaccine to prevent swine flu is just another way for you to BE SAFE!