The flu season is especially bad this year, and it’s gaining momentum in Utah right now. KSL reports that at one elementary school in Utah County, 150 kids are absent due to illness. This seems like the perfect time to roll out alternatives to the germ-laden handshake at Church, at least during flu outbreaks. The fist-bump only transfers 10% of the germs spread by the more traditional handshake. Some folks also opt for a big friendly smile and a quick explanation that they don’t shake hands during flu season.
A few other ways to avoid spreading the flu at Church:
These are based on CDC recommendations.
1. Get a flu shot. It’s not too late to have some benefit. The Church does recommend that we “receive a seasonal influenza vaccination (flu shot).”
2. Assign someone to disinfect doorknobs and light switches, especially in rooms with a lot of traffic, such as the primary, nursery and bathrooms. It’s not going overboard to do this as each ward leaves on Sunday, especially if your area is experiencing a high number of flu cases.
3. Stay home if you are sick. Keep your kids home if they are sick. If you are healthy and available, be willing to substitute for those who are sick so that they don’t feel obligated to come to Church in order to fulfill their calling.
4. Wash your hands frequently; use hand-sanitizer.
5. Sneeze or cough using a tissue or into your upper arm (Dracula sneeze). Throw your tissues away after one use. Don’t put that little Petri dish back in your purse or pocket! Make sure enough tissues are available in your meeting rooms so that everyone can easily access them.
6. Although antiviral medications like Tamiflu are generally prescribed within two days of showing flu symptoms, they are also approved for preventative use according to the FDA. So, if your whole family or primary class comes down sick with the flu and you know you’ve been exposed, your doctor might prescribe an antiviral for you even if you’re not sick yet. Your doctor might be willing to prescribe an antiviral even if you’ve had a flu shot, because some strains of the flu are not included in the vaccine. Antivirals are not a substitute for getting a flu shot, but they can help prevent you from getting sick.