Healthy Habits to Help Protect Against Flu

The single best way to reduce the risk of seasonal flu and its potentially serious complications is to get vaccinated each year. This year Emory University has required that all faculty, staff and students receive a flu shot and complete the Attestation Form by October 29, 2021. In addition to the flu shot, healthy habits like staying home when you are sick, avoiding close contact with others, and washing your hands often can help stop the spread of germs and prevent respiratory illnesses like flu.

Key Times to Wash Hands 

You can help yourself and your loved ones stay healthy by washing your hands often, especially during these key times when you are likely to get and spread germs: 

  • Before, during, and after preparing food 
  • Before and after eating food 
  • Before and after caring for someone at home who is sick  
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound 
  • After using the toilet 
  • After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
  • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing 
  • After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste 
  • After handling pet food or pet treats 
  • After touching garbage 

To prevent the spread of germs during the COVID-19 pandemic, you should also wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol to clean hands BEFORE and AFTER: 

  • Touching your eyes, nose, or mouth 
  • Touching your mask 
  • Entering and leaving a public place 
  • Touching an item or surface that may be frequently touched by other people, such as door handles, tables, gas pumps, shopping carts, or electronic cashier registers/screens 

Follow Five Steps to Wash Your Hands the Right Way 

Washing your hands is easy, and it’s one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of germs. Clean hands can stop germs from spreading from one person to another and throughout an entire community—from your home and workplace to childcare facilities and hospitals. 

Follow these five steps every time. 

  1. Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap. 
  2. Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails. 
  3. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice. 
  4. Rinse your hands well under clean, running water. 
  5. Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them. 

Use Hand Sanitizer When You Can’t Use Soap and Water 

Washing hands with soap and water is the best way to get rid of germs in most situations. If soap and water are not readily available, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. You can tell if the sanitizer contains at least 60% alcohol by looking at the product label. 

Sanitizers can quickly reduce the number of germs on hands in many situations. However, 

  • Sanitizers do not get rid of all types of germs. 
  • Hand sanitizers may not be as effective when hands are visibly dirty or greasy. 
  • Hand sanitizers might not remove harmful chemicals from hands like pesticides and heavy metals. 

How to Use Hand Sanitizer 

  • Apply the product to the palm of one hand (read the label to learn the correct amount). 
  • Rub your hands together. 
  • Rub the product over all the surfaces of your hands and fingers until your hands are dry. This should take around 20 seconds. 


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