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October 7, 2009 > Don't Forget About Seasonal Flu

Don't Forget About Seasonal Flu

This year, everyone is thinking and talking about the H1N1 (sometimes called "swine flu") pandemic, and rightly so. But, don't forget, fall is still the time when seasonal flu strikes and people need to take steps to protect themselves and their families.

Also called influenza, seasonal flu is a contagious disease affecting your respiratory tract that is caused by influenza viruses. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), this type of flu can cause mild to severe symptoms and, at times, can lead to death. This year, the CDC reports it "is preparing for an early flu season and expects both 2009 H1N1 flu and seasonal flu to circulate, causing illness, hospital stays and deaths."

Get vaccinated

"The best way to protect yourself against seasonal flu is to get vaccinated every year," says Dianne Martin, MD, internal medicine and infectious disease specialist on the medical staff of Washington Hospital. "You should be aware that seasonal flu vaccines do not protect again the H1N1 flu. There is a separate vaccination for that virus, which should be available later this month."

Anyone who is at high risk of having serious flu-related complications should get vaccinated for the seasonal flu each year. You are at high risk if you:
* Are 6 months to 18 years old
* Are pregnant
* Are 50 years of age or older
* Have certain medical conditions, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, cardiovascular disease or diabetes
* Live in a nursing home or other long-term care facility

If you live with or care for someone who is high risk for complications from the seasonal flu, you should also be vaccinated. This includes anyone who:
* Lives in the same household with high risk individuals
* Lives in the same household with or is an out-of-home caregiver for a child who is less than 6 months old
* Is a healthcare worker

Get a Flu Shot

Washington Hospital Healthcare System is providing seasonal flu vaccinations at Washington Urgent Care, 2500 Mowry Avenue, Suite 212, Fremont. The service is available seven days a week between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. For more information, call (510) 608-6174.

The Washington On Wheels Mobile Health Clinic will be traveling throughout the community, providing flu vaccinations at four different sites this fall. (See the info box below for dates and addresses.) For more information, call (510) 608-3203. Both programs accept most insurance, and discounts are available for those without insurance.

Wash your hands

"The other very important way to help stop the spread of flu is to practice good hand hygiene," emphasizes Dr. Martin. "Touch is the most common way pathogens are transmitted from person to person. Regular hand washing is a simple thing to do and is effective in helping to prevent the flu virus from spreading."

Make it a habit to wash your hands often or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. And, make sure members of your family do the same. Besides washing their hands when they are visibly soiled, everyone should wash before eating and after using the restroom.

The CDC recommends the following steps when washing your hands with soap and water:
* Wet your hand with clean running water, warm if it's available, and apply soap.
* Rub your hands together to make a lather and rub all surfaces for 15 seconds to 20 seconds. Pay special attention to the webs of your thumbs, where germs congregate most often.
* Rinse your hands well under running water.
* Dry your hands using a paper towel or air dryer.
If you are using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer:
* Apply the product to the palm of one hand.
* Rub your hands together.
* Rub the product over all surfaces of hands and fingers until your hands are dry.

To learn more about H1N1 (swine-flu) and how to prepare for the seasonal flu visit or

The Washington on Wheels Mobile Health Clinic will be offering seasonal flu vaccinations at the following locations. Washington on Wheels is also available to do flu shots on site at your company. Call (510) 608-3203 for more details.

Fremont Senior Center
40086 Paseo Padre Parkway
Fremont, CA 94537
Nov. 6, Dec. 4 (10 a.m. to 3 p.m.)

Family Resource Center
39155 Liberty Street
Fremont, CA 94538
Oct. 12, Nov. 9, Dec. 14 (10 a.m. to 3 p.m.)

Newark Community Center
35501 Cedar Boulevard
Newark, CA 94560
Oct. 8, Nov. 12, Dec. 10 (10 a.m. to 3 p.m.)

Ruggieri Senior Center
33997 Alvarado Niles Road
Union City, CA 94587
Oct. 26, Nov. 23, Dec. 21 (10 a.m. to 3 p.m.)

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