Winter Illness Outbreak Cold and Flu

Steps We Can All Take to Fight the Flu

Jim Arbogast


By Jim Arbogast, Ph.D.

Hygiene Sciences and Public Health Advancements Vice President, GOJO Industries

Today, I represented GOJO in Washington, D.C. at the National Foundation of Infectious Diseases’ (NFID) annual Influenza/Pneumococcal news conference, which reinforced the importance of prevention for this upcoming winter-germ season.

One of the messages highlighted throughout the news conference was the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “3 Actions to Fight the Flu.”1  The “Take 3” approach recommends the following:

  • Take the time to get the flu vaccine as soon as it is available in your community,
  • Stop the spread of germs with everyday preventive actions, like practicing good hand hygiene, and
  • Take flu antiviral drugs if your doctor prescribes them.

Hand Hygiene - An Important Step in Flu Prevention
According to Dr. William Schaffner, NFID Medical Director and moderator of this year’s press conference, in addition to an annual flu vaccine, everyday hand hygiene is an important step to help reduce the spread of infections that cause illness.

I frequently remind people that hand hygiene is one of the most important preventive measures to reduce the spread of illness-causing germs. And, practicing good hand hygiene, which includes either hand washing or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, at key moments like before and after preparing food; before eating; before and after caring for someone that is ill; after sneezing or coughing; after using the bathroom; and after touching anything that has been touched by many people, like a grocery cart handle, a subway handrail or an elevator button is important in keeping you and your family healthy.

Winter-Germ Season Recommendations
To help make sure practicing good hand hygiene is easy as possible this winter-germ season, GOJO recommends the following:

  • Schools and businesses can start by making sure all hand soap dispensers are in good working order with sealed refills available. 
  • Businesses and families can establish norms and etiquette for good hand hygiene. Make hand sanitizers easily accessible and available in areas where people are together so hands can be sanitized after sneezing, coughing and at mealtimes.
  • Businesses can place hand sanitizer dispensers near restroom exits to help prompt the 1-4 people who don’t typically wash their hands after using the restroom.2 Touch-free dispensers, in fact, have been shown to increase use by nearly 20 percent.3
  • Individuals can carry either portable hand sanitizing wipes or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer for use when soap and water are not available or practical.

For more information on hand hygiene during winter-germ season, look to either the GOJO or PURELL websites.

[2] September 2007. Observational Study Sponsored by the American Society for Microbiology and the Soap and Detergent Association (SDA).
[3] Larson E, Albrect S, O'Keefe M., “Hand Hygiene Behavior in a Pediatric Emergency Department and a Pediatric Intensive Care Unit: Comparison of Use of 2 Dispenser Systems,” American Journal of Critical Care, Volume 14, Number 14, July 2005, pp. 304-312

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