Fall is here and that automatically makes Brainerd area residents suspiciously look over their shoulders at gray clouds that might bring snow. We can't help mentally jumping ahead one season because winter brings with it many conditions that require preparation.
This year, in particular, families and organizations are bracing themselves for the winter flu season because of fears of the spread of the H1N1 virus. No one knows how extensive H1N1 might be in this area or how severe the bouts with that virus might be for those unlucky enough to contract it, but preparations are being made.
County health officials expect to receive their 8,000 doses of the H1N1 vaccine in mid- to late October. It will be distributed first to children with fragile medical conditions, followed by children and young people from age six months to 24 years.
In addition to vaccinations for the H1N1 virus and more common types of flu, normal common sense rules for people who are sick will go a long way to prevent the spread of serious illnesses.
• Cover your mouth when you sneeze, preferably with a tissue or handkerchief. Try coughing into your elbow. If you use your hands to cover a sneeze or cough wash your hands.
• Stay at home if you're sick. Don't spread the flu to your co-workers or others you might encounter at shops or in confined areas. Sick children who attend schools or day care facilities should not return to those sites for 24 hours after they have been fever-free without medication.
• Wash your hands frequently. Use soap and water when possible. Use hand sanitizers as a second choice.
Taking these precautions amounts to common courtesy and will go a long way to prevent the spread of flu among your friends and neighbors.
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