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Flu, colds don't take a vacation
Prevention is the best cure for travel illness
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Planning to go away for Christmas or New Year's?
Getting out of town doesn't mean you'll be escaping the flu or cold season.
Wherever you go, you'll need to take precautions against catching a bug that could take the fun out of your vacation.
That's especially true if you'll be boarding an airliner where you may be confined in tight spaces with a passenger who happens to be hacking, coughing and sneezing.
Even if you're driving by yourself, your destination may bring you into contact with someone who is battling the same illness that people at home are suffering.
A timely flu shot, some attention to hygiene and a little pre-vacation planning will help your travel plans come together without a hitch, says April Parsons, an infections preventionist at Yuma Regional Medical Center.
Ideally, you got your flu shot months ago. If not, says Parsons, it's a good idea to get one before you leave.
Even if it's not practical to distance yourself on an airplane from someone who appears to have flu, the shot will afford you protection from the germs the other person is spreading, she says.
“I am a big supporter of the flu shots,” Parson said. If you're vaccinated, “you're much less likely to get the flu, and if you do, it will be a much milder case.”
Health professionals typically recommend that adults and children 6 months of age and older get annual vaccinations against seasonal flu.
Travelers can further build up their immune system against flu by getting plenty of rest before and during their visits, avoiding undue stress, following a healthy diet, staying hydrated and limiting consumption of alcohol, Parsons added.
“Healthy people are more likely to avoid the flu.”
And lather up frequently if your hands touch surfaces that may carry germs.
“The most important thing you can do is hand washing,” Parsons said.
If you're nowhere near a faucet and soap, bottles of alcohol-based hand sanitizers are a good substitute. “What you have to do is make sure you cover all surfaces (with the gel), including under the fingernails,” Parsons advises.
Frequent hand washing, she added, can help prevent another malady that can ruin a vacation, gastrointestinal illness.
For those traveling with infants and toddlers, it's a good idea to pay particular attention to the youngsters' well-being, said Parson, since children may not always show the same flu symptoms as those exhibited by adults.
Conversely, parents can help prevent their children's spread of cold or flu germs by making sure they know to cough or sneeze in the crook of their arms rather than in their hands.
If you haven't gotten your flu shot yet, the Yuma County Health Department provides vaccinations at the following days, times and locations.
At the health department, 2200 W. 28th St.:
• Mondays, 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and 1 to 4 p.m. (No shots given from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.)
• Tuesdays, 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and 1 to 4 p.m.
• The second, fourth and fifth Wednesdays of each month, 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and 1 to 4 p.m.
• Thursdays, 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and 1 to 4 p.m.
• Fridays, 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. (The office is closed from 1 to 5 p.m.)
In San Luis, Ariz., at the San Luis Justice Court, 1358 E. Liberty St.:
• The first and third Wednesday of each month from 9 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. and 1 to 3 p.m.
In Wellton at Wellton Library, 28790 San Jose Ave.:
• The second Friday of the months of December, March and June from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
In Dateland at Dateland Elementary School:
• The fourth Tuesday of the months of December, March and June from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The flu vaccine also is available through other sources. Visit www.flu.gov for the flu vaccination locator powered by Google to find a provider. For additional information, visit www.yumacountyaz.gov/flu.