Holiday ‘well’ wishes: Spread flu awareness, not the flu, when traveling

The holiday season is here! For many, this time of year means traveling to

H1N1 influenza health checks at the Beijing International Airport

H1N1 influenza health checks at the Beijing International Airport

get together with family and friends whom we may not see often. You may be traveling by car, train or plane, but do you know to protect yourself from the flu while on the road?

To me, traveling by plane is like taking a swim in a Petri dish – all that pressurized, re-circulating air, the sniffling and coughing guy sitting by you with crumpled tissue in hand. We’ve all seen that person. We may have even been that person.

While the U.S. Centers for Disease Control advises you against traveling when experiencing flu symptoms, a survey conducted by ORC International found that nearly 60 percent of those experiencing flu-like symptoms go about their normal daily routines. 45 percent of those polled said they would travel for vacation with flu symptoms. Sickening, right? Pun intended.

There are some things you can do to avoid catching the flu while traveling over the holiday season. Helpful hints from the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases include:

  • Getting your flu shot at least two weeks before traveling.
  • Seated by the sick? Ask them to kindly cover their coughs, end with an empathetic statement such as “Yuck! It’s a bummer to have to travel when you don’t feel good.”
  • Arm yourself with tissues and hand sanitizer when traveling. Go ahead – kindly offer them to that sick guy you’re sitting by, the one with the crumpled tissue.
  • Turn the other cheek. If you’re about to cough or sneeze turn your head away from others – show your fellow travelers you’re interested in their welfare.
  • Keep your hands to yourself. Avoid touching your face and shaking hands with others if you have flu symptoms.
  • Stay home!

For more tips, check out the CDC podcast on holiday travel. If you’ve not gotten your flu shot yet, get yours today to help ensure a safe and healthy holiday season.

Image: Tricia Wang

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