As we approach the cold and flu season, the threat of respiratory illnesses looms, especially in light of the recent spike in COVID-19 cases across the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report a worrisome 21.6 percent increase in coronavirus-related hospital admissions in the past week alone. Amidst this challenging backdrop and uncertain travel conditions, infection prevention takes on an even more crucial role, particularly for those involved in patient care across hospitals and health systems.
To shield against an array of respiratory illnesses beyond COVID-19, attention to frequent hand washing and mask-wearing is imperative. Elie A. Saade, an expert in medical quality and infection control, emphasizes the ubiquity and transmission potential of various viruses during the cold season. One key preventive measure highlighted in his discussion is the use of masks to protect against air-transmitted droplets which may carry harmful microorganisms.
The importance of hand hygiene, underscored during the pandemic, remains paramount in disease prevention. The Healthy Handwashing Survey from Bradley Corporation reveals that 93 percent of participants recognize handwashing as integral to health preservation, cementing it as a primary tool in resisting the spread of infectious germs. This simple task can avert not only respiratory but also diarrheal infections that may derail any travel plans.
Hand hygiene is particularly crucial before and after meals, post-restroom visits, and following any act of blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. Also, avoiding frequent face-touching can act as a formidable barrier against pathogen entry and subsequent infection.
In situations where washing facilities are not readily available, hand sanitizers provide a convenient alternative. Portable travel-sized bottles of sanitizer can easily fit in carry-on bags or even attach to keychains, making them a practical choice for maintaining hand hygiene during travel or event attendance.
In view of the imminent flu season, the CDC encourages flu vaccinations for individuals over six months, pregnant women, adults over 65, and those with chronic health conditions. Notably, the CDC’s updated guidelines accommodate those with egg allergies, expanding the reach of influenza vaccinations, thus contributing to public health protection.
The seemingly unrelated events mentioned in the latter half of the subject article (from Amazon’s upcoming sales event to new research findings from AAA and Chicco) do not directly pertain to the pressing issue of infection prevention at hand, but underline the atmosphere of ongoing societal activities and concerns amid the dynamic panorama of public health management.
As infection prevention professionals, the priority should be to advance education around these essential measures, strengthening our defenses against the oncoming cold and flu season while simultaneously addressing the continuing challenges posed by COVID-19.