Why is hand washing so much more important during flu season?

Flu viruses cause many of the same symptoms as colds, but influenza can be much more serious. Some patients are more susceptible to severe symptoms and potentially life-threatening complications. At Good Samaritan Hospital, we emphasize the value of preventive care for our neighbors in San Jose, and that includes reducing the spread of disease-causing germs with thorough hand washing.

The flu vaccine is effective, but not foolproof

To get ready for every flu season, virus experts identify the strains of flu virus that are most likely to be widespread in the U.S. Seasonal flu shots are developed and manufactured to protect families from these flu viruses.

Doctors recommend an annual flu shot because it’s the most effective way to avoid this serious illness. However, because the shot can’t protect patients from every possible strain of flu virus, it isn’t 100 percent foolproof. This is why emergency care doctors encourage families to continue to protect themselves in other ways, such as by washing their hands frequently.

Viruses can live outside the human body

If a person sneezes into his or her hand, you probably wouldn’t shake that hand. This is a smart way to protect yourself, but it’s still possible to contract the flu even if you avoid direct contact with sick individuals.

Flu viruses can remain active and infectious on surfaces for up to 24 hours. If an infected person opens a door and you touch the doorknob afterward, you could get these germs on your hand. In addition to washing your hands regularly, consider routinely disinfecting commonly touched surfaces in your home and workstation, such as the following:

  • Phones
  • Doorknobs
  • Refrigerator handles
  • TV remotes
  • Light switches
  • Computer devices

Hand washing protects yourself and others

When you choose to wash your hands frequently during flu season, you’re protecting your family and the community as a whole, as well as yourself. This is significant because some people are unable to safely get the flu shot, such as infants under six months of age and individuals with life-threatening egg allergies. Doing your part to reduce germ transmission is one way you can keep your neighbors safe.

Good Samaritan Hospital delivers patient-centered emergency care around the clock, every day of the year. Our compassionate doctors and nurses are committed to maintaining the highest standards of infection control in our hospital in San Jose. For information about our healthcare services, you can speak with a registered nurse at (888) 724-2362.

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