Nobody wants to find themselves sick during the holiday season, and the Hawaii Department of Health has some advice to help residents avoid some illnesses throughout this time of year. In a recent press release to the general public, the agency, along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has created new recommendations for flu and pertussis vaccinations. In addition, the agencies have issued a list of health tips to help you stay healthy during the holidays.
Because of their robust tourism industry, flu season is year-round in Hawaii. That is why it is important to get your flu vaccine every year to ward off the bug throughout the year – especially during the holidays. Every season, many Hawaiians miss out on festivities because of illness, or worse, hospitalization because of complications from that illness. Flu vaccines are available through health care providers, clinics and pharmacies throughout the islands. Residents can call 2-1-1 or check online at www.flu.hawaii.gov for a list of flu vaccination locations in their area.
Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, is on the rise across the country. It is a particular problem in California, where documented cases of whooping cough have reached nearly epidemic proportions. Although it is not currently a problem in Hawaii, Hawaiians who will be traveling during the holiday season should make sure their pertussis vaccinations are up to date to avoid the spread of the disease. This is particularly critical for infants and pre-teens between the ages of 11 and 12, since these age groups appear to be the most vulnerable to the illness. However, teenagers and adults who have not received the vaccine should also get a dose prior to traveling.
In addition to ensuring your immunizations are up to date, there are other steps you can take to keep yourself and your family healthy during the holiday season. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have issued the following recommendations:
- When you cough or sneeze, always cover your nose and mouth with a tissue. When you are finished using the tissue, dispose of it properly in the waste can.
- If you do not have a tissue available, it is better to cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve, rather than your hand, to avoid the spread of germs.
- Wash your hands frequently, with either soap and warm water or an alcohol-based hand cleaner and sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth, since this is where germs tend to spread.
- If you are sick, stay home to avoid spreading the germs to others.
Staying healthy during the holidays isn’t always easy, but there are a few simple steps you can take to increase your chances of surviving the holidays without a major illness to bring you down. By ensuring your immunizations are all up to date, and following a few simple tips throughout the day to prevent the spread of germs, the entire population of Hawaii can enjoy the holiday season with much less illness and more festivity.