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People under age 18 are asked not to visit hospital patients during flu season
Tift Regional Health System (TRHS) urges local residents to get a flu shot to help stay healthy during the influenza season, which officially began Oct. 2 and will run through May 27. TRHS is also implementing a visitor restriction policy during the flu season, asking people under age 18 not to come to the system’s two hospitals and nursing home to visit patients.

“We need the community’s help in minimizing the spread of the flu,” said Mary Key, RN, CIC, TRHS Director of Infection Prevention. “Flu vaccination can reduce flu illnesses, visits to the doctor and absent days at work and school due to the flu. It can also prevent flu-related hospitalizations. The visitor restrictions at Tift Regional Medical Center, Cook Medical Center and Cook Senior Living Center are necessary to help protect our patients and healthcare providers. We are also requesting that people over age 18 who are sick not come to the hospital or nursing home as well.”

Key said the more people who get vaccinated, the more people will be protected from flu, including older people, very young children, pregnant women, and people with certain long-term health conditions who are more vulnerable to serious flu complications.

In addition to a flu shot, Key said there are other ways to help limit the spread of influenza. Some basic rules-of-thumb include:

• Avoid close contact – stay away from those who are sick and if you’re sick, stay away from everyone else.
• Stay home when you are sick – you’re doing no one any favors by going to work or school with the flu. Also, do not visit a family member or friend who is hospitalized. Rest until you’re better.
• Cover your mouth and nose – when you cough or sneeze, use a tissue and save everyone in the immediate vicinity from your germs.
• Clean your hands – washing your hands often is always a good idea. If you are around anyone who is or has been sick, wash your hands even more frequently.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth – germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose or mouth.
• Practice other good health habits – get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids and eat nutritious food.

“We appreciate the community’s help and cooperation in reducing the spread of flu,” said Key.