A recent poll on the H1N1 flu conducted by the American Red Cross found that more Americans are taking or planning on taking extra measures to cover their coughs and sneezes with tissue (78 percent) or wash their hands more carefully (76 percent) to avoid getting the flu. The survey also found that 62 percent plan on being vaccinated against this new flu virus if one is offered.
While only 1 in 10 of those surveyed by the Red Cross claimed to be very worried about novel H1N1 influenza, results show people have a strong interest in taking protective actions.
The survey found that 93 percent of Americans are taking or planning to take at least one action to guard against this new flu. Nearly half of those surveyed (46 percent) plan on assembling a two-week supply of food, water and medicine that they might need in the event they or someone in their family becomes sick and need to stay home for extended periods of time.
"Even though most Americans aren't extremely worried about the virus, they seem interested in taking steps to protect themselves and their families," said Scott Conner, Red Cross senior vice president of preparedness and health and safety services. "Taking those basic steps -- such as washing your hands more frequently and remaining at home if you are sick become even more important as the new flu season approaches."
The survey results also found that women are more likely to take protective actions, with 84 percent making an extra effort to cover coughs and sneezes (versus 71 percent for men), and 81 percent washing their hands more carefully and more often (compared to 71 percent for men).
However, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimating that a vaccine may not be available until later this fall, the Red Cross is urging people to remember these simple actions to help guard against the flu:
Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or sleeve when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it. If you don't have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your elbow, not your hands.
Wash your hands often, for at least 20 seconds, with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleansers are also effective.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
Avoid close contact with people who are sick and stay home if you are feeling sick.