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Seasonal Flu Shot Clinics
Community Seasonal Flu Shot Sites:  www.findaflushot.com
H1N1 Flu Shot Clinics
Visit the Howard County Health Department Web site for information on upcoming H1N1 flu shot clinics in the county.

What can I do to protect myself from getting sick?

Avoid close contact with people who are sick. If you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick.

  • Get your seasonal flu shot early this fall. Get your shot for FREE at the annual drive-thru flu clinic at Columbia Gateway Drive on October 4th from 8:00am to 5:00pm. 
  • Get your flu shot at Howard Community College on September 29th and October 5th in the Rouse Company Foundation Student Services Hall, Room 400 from 11:00am to 1:00pm.  It is FREE for Aetna members, $27 for non-Aetna members, and $22 for students.
  • If possible, stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick. You will help prevent others from getting sick. People with the flu should stay away from others for at least 24 hours after their fever is gone. The fever should be gone without the use of a fever-lowering medicine. 
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or inside of your elbow when you cough or sneeze. Make sure to put used tissues in the trash after one use. 
  • Wash your hands often with warm water and soap. Alcohol-based hand cleaners like Purell also work. 
  • Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, and nose. Germs spread this way. 
  •  Get plenty of sleep, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.

Tips for Staying Healthy (in English)
Tips for Staying Healthy (in Korean)
Tips for Staying Healthy (in Spanish)

How does H1N1 spread?

People with the flu can give you the virus if they cough or sneeze near you. You can also become sick by touching something with germs on it, such as door knobs, and then touching your eyes, mouth, or nose. Unless they need urgent medical help, adults who are sick should be cared for at home.

How long is a person with the flu able to give the flu to others?

This is still unknown. You may be able to spread flu germs for up to 1 day before and up to 7 days after you start having symptoms.  At the current time, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) believe that this virus has the same properties in terms of spread as seasonal flu viruses.

What is the best technique for washing my hands to avoid getting the flu?

Washing your hands often helps protect you from germs. Use soap and warm water when you wash your hands. Wash for 15 to 20 seconds. Have your child sing two verses of “Happy Birthday” to allow for enough time.
When soap and water are not available, alcohol-based hand wipes or gel may be used. You can find them in many supermarkets and drugstores. If using gel, rub your hands until the gel is dry. The gel doesn't need water to work; the alcohol in it kills the germs on your hands.

Is there a vaccine for H1N1?

A vaccine to prevent H1N1 is still being tested. The best way to prevent the spread of H1N1 is by staying away from sick people, washing your hands often, and covering your cough.
 
H1N1 Prevention: Cleaning, Disinfecting & Sanitizing

How long can H1N1 and other influenza virus remain viable on objects (such as books and doorknobs)?

Studies have shown that influenza virus can survive on environmental surfaces and can infect a person for up to 2-8 hours after being deposited on the surface.

What kills H1N1 and other influenza virus?

Influenza virus is destroyed by heat (167-212°F [75-100°C]). In addition, several chemical germicides, including chlorine, hydrogen peroxide, detergents (soap), iodophors (iodine-based antiseptics), and alcohols are effective against H1N1 and other influenza viruses if used in proper concentration for a sufficient length of time.  For example, wipes or gels with alcohol in can be used to clean hands.  The gels should be rubbed into hands for about 20 seconds or until your hands feel dry, whichever is longest.

How should waste disposal be handled to prevent the spread of H1N1 and other influenza virus?

To prevent the spread of H1N1 and other influenza virus, it is recommended that tissues and other disposable items used by an infected person be thrown in the trash.  Additionally, persons should wash their hands with soap and water after touching used tissues and similar waste.

What surfaces are most likely to be sources of contamination?

Germs can be spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.  Droplets from a cough or sneeze of an infected person move through the air.  Germs can be spread when a person touches respiratory droplets from another person on a surface like a desk, for example, and then touches their own eyes, mouth or nose before washing their hands.

What is the college doing and what common surfaces are being disinfected?

In addition to good hand-washing and personal hygiene practices, surfaces commonly contacted by hands should also be disinfected periodically or whenever they become contaminated due to coughing, sneezing, dirty hands, etc.  Surfaces that should be disinfected include, but are not limited to: telephones, computer keyboards and mice, door knobs, drinking fountains, sink faucet handles, paper towel dispensers, and tables and desktops.  Effective disinfection includes the use of antimicrobial chemicals.  Those effective against Hepatitis B also work against other viruses, including flu viruses.  A 10% bleach water solution is also effective on most surfaces. The Environmental Protection Agency web site at (www.epa.gov/oppad001/chemregindex.htm) lists approved antimicrobial chemicals.  When disinfecting surfaces, it is important to:

  • Follow chemical label directions and read safety precautions
  • Clean surfaces with soap and water or another type of cleaner to remove dirt and debris prior to disinfecting.
  • Apply disinfectant to the surface and let stand for at least a few minutes (follow the label) to allow it to work.
  • Use disinfecting wipes or specially designed products on electronics.
  • Check the expiration date.

What household cleaning can be done to prevent the spread of H1N1 and other influenza virus?

To prevent the spread of H1N1 and other influenza virus it is important to keep surfaces (especially bedside tables, surfaces in the bathroom, kitchen counters and toys for children) clean by wiping them down with a household disinfectant according to directions on the product label.

What is the difference between a disinfectant, an antimicrobial, and a sanitizing product?

Disinfectants and antimicrobials destroy pathogenic microorganisms.  These two terms are used interchangeably.  Sanitizers reduce the number of microorganisms to a safe level by killing them; typically, sanitizers kill 99.9% of these germs.  Any product that claims to kill bacteria or viruses must be registered with the Environmental Protection Agency, so look for products that have an EPA registration number on the product label.

How do I know which product is best for my surface?

The best course of action is to read the product label carefully and purchase and use products as intended.  Also, use common sense when considering the type of surface on which the product will be used.  For example, do not spray products on electronics, as they could cause damage to the component or cause an electrical “short.”

Are cleaning products safe?

Companies evaluate the safety of existing cleaning products by talking with consumers, reviewing scientific developments, and monitoring product use data that may affect the safety assessment process.  Safety also lies in the hands of the consumer.  In the real-world use of cleaning products, problems generally arise when they are improperly handled, used or stored.  Consumers should read the product label, use cleaning products only as directed and store products properly and securely.

When a surface looks clean, does that mean it is probably germ-free, too?

According to the CDC, disinfecting and cleaning are not the same.  The tricky thing about germs is that they cannot be seen with the eye. While soap and hot water remove some germs from surfaces when you clean, they cannot kill all germs.  To ensure that a surface is germ-free, use a disinfectant or sanitizing product.  Be sure to follow the label directions, as many products need to “stand” on a surface for a period of time in order to kill germs.  For more on germ prevention, visit the CDC’s Ounce of Prevention website: www.cdc.gov/ounceofprevention.

How do I dispose of cleaning products safely?

Use the entire product.  If the product has been sitting in storage area for awhile, check the expiration date or call the manufacturer to see if the product is still effective.  Always check the label for product disposal instructions, or contact the manufacturer.  When your container is empty, you could check your local recycling facility to see if it’s recyclable in your community.