Baltimore County Now
Della J. Leister, R.N.
Deputy Health Officer, Baltimore County Department of Health
When you think about fall, what comes to mind - colorful leaves, cooler temperatures, getting a flu shot? For those of us at the Baltimore County Department of Health, fall is the time when we promote the importance of getting vaccinated to prevent the spread of flu.
The best way to prevent the flu is by knowing the flu FACTS.
Frequently wash your hands.
Washing hands with soap and water at for 20-30 seconds is the best form of protection to reduce the spread of germs. If soap and water is not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
Always get an annual flu shot.
Flu viruses are always changing, last season’s flu vaccine may not protect against newer viruses, and an annual vaccination is the only way to maintain protection each season.
Cover your cough and sneezes.
Use a tissue to cover your coughs and sneezes; then throw it away. If you do not have a tissue, cough and sneeze into the crease of your arm (elbow area) to prevent your droplets from spreading. Never cough or sneeze into your hands.
Take time off from school, work, and social activities if you have symptoms.
People who have the flu often have these symptoms:
· Fever or feeling feverish/chills
· Sore throat
· Runny or stuffy nose
· Muscle or body aches
· Fatigue (tiredness)
Seek medical care if your symptoms get worse.
If your condition does not improve after taking over-the-counter medication to alleviate symptoms, and then call you doctor.
If you are looking to “stay in the game,” then plan to get flu shot. The Baltimore County Department will offer free flu shots on Saturday, October 25 from 9 a.m. to noon at seven locations across the county. For more information, go to http://www.baltimorecountymd.gov/Agencies/health/resources/flu.html or call 410-887-BCHD (2243).
Linda Grossman, M.D., Chief, Bureau of Clinical Services
Baltimore County Department of Health
As the lazy days of summer come to an end, many parents with school-age children are beginning their “back to school” preparations. If you’re among them, be sure to include your child’s pediatric check-up and/or annual immunizations on your list.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have a list of recommended vaccinations (http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/index.html) your child should receive— as well as when they should receive them. New this year in the State of Maryland is a law requiring specific vaccinations for children who are entering kindergarten and seventh grade for the 2014-2015 school year. The law requires that students entering kindergarten this fall must have two varicella vaccinations. Meanwhile, students who are entering seventh grade must have one Tdap (Tetanus-diphtheria-attenuated pertussis) and one meningococcal (MCV4) vaccination.
Immunization is a key part of protecting your child’s health. Millions of lives have been saved and untold cases of diseases have been prevented because of people getting vaccines to help them develop immunity to serious infections. Diseases that used to affect many people, such as polio, measles, pertussis (whooping cough), and meningitis, now are rare thanks to vaccines. It’s important to note that the germs that cause these illnesses continue to exist, so continued immunization is critical to the health of your child.
Additionally, immunization isn’t just good for your child’s health; it’s also good for those around him or her. When you immunize your child, you help protect the health of others including those who are too young to be vaccinated, those who are unable to be vaccinated due to medical reasons, and those for whom a vaccine may not be effective.
As you enjoy your final days of summer and begin your back-to-school shopping, please include your child’s health among your plans. Here’s wishing you and yours a happy, healthy and safe school year!
The Baltimore County Health Department will be offering free, recommended vaccinations for eligible children ages five through 18. Find a date and location: http://www.baltimorecountymd.gov/Agencies/health/healthservices/children/immunizations.html
Dr. Linda Grossman is a pediatrician in Baltimore, Maryland. She received her medical degree from University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry and has been in practice for almost 40 years.
Dr. Barbara McLean, Chief, Bureau of Prevention and Protection
Baltimore County Department of Health
Summer is the perfect time to enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables, but even these items require proper care and preparation. The proportion of foodborne illnesses associated with fresh fruits and vegetables has increased over the past few years, but you can enjoy them safely by knowing and following these four steps:
When shopping, check to make sure that fresh and packaged fruits and vegetables are not bruised or damaged.
Wash hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds before and after handling fresh fruits and vegetables.
Clean all surfaces with hot water and soap— countertops, cutting boards, knives and peelers before and after food preparation.
Wash all fruits and vegetables thoroughly under running water before eating, cutting or cooking. Use a clean vegetable brush to scrub thicker-skinned produce such as melons and cucumbers.
Washing fruits and vegetables with detergent, bleach or commercial produce washes is not
When shopping, keep fresh fruits and vegetables separate from household chemicals and raw meat, poultry and seafood. Keep them apart in the grocery cart, in the grocery bags and at home, in the refrigerator.
Do not use the same cutting board for fruits and vegetables that you’ve used for your raw meat, poultry or seafood before thoroughly washing it with hot water and soap.
Refrigerate all cut, peeled or cooked fruit and vegetables promptly.
Prevent fruits and vegetables from touching raw meat, poultry, seafood or their juices.
When preparing produce, be sure to remove and throw away any bruised or damaged portions. Then wash thoroughly under running water
Fruits and vegetables should never be left out for more than two hours after cutting, peeling or cooking
I hope these tips will enable you and your family to fresh fruits and vegetables safely this summer. For more information on food safety, visit: www.fightbac.org/.