Holiday and Winter Flu Prevention

Ronald Rios

By Ronald G. Rios

Middlesex County Freeholder Deputy Director
Chairperson, Committee of Public Health and Education

The holiday season is a good time to spread cheer… but not germs.  As we shop, travel and get together with friends and family to celebrate, we also increase our chances of being exposed to germs and flu.  Since no one wants to spend the holidays sick in bed, here are a few simple tips to avoid spreading or being exposed to viruses, bacteria and other germs.


To kick off a healthy holiday season right, December begins with National Handwashing Awareness Week (Dec. 5-11).  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, handwashing is the single most important thing we can do to keep from getting sick and spreading germs to others.  It is best to wash hands with soap and clean running water for 20 seconds. If soap and clean water are not available, use an alcohol-based product like hand sanitizer to clean your hands.

When should you wash your hands?

  • Before preparing or eating food
  • After going to the bathroom
  • After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has gone to the bathroom
  • Before and after tending to someone who is sick
  • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • After handling an animal or animal waste
  • After handling garbage
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound

For more information on National Handwashing Awareness Week, please visit:

Another important way to protect yourself, your family, and friends this holiday season is to get a flu vaccine.  Dr. Susan Walsh, Deputy Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services, recently received her flu vaccination at the Middlesex County Public Health Department seasonal flu clinic in Metuchen and encouraged residents to get vaccinated. The Middlesex County Public Health Department has added adult flu clinics in the municipalities of Perth Amboy, Sayreville and New Brunswick, and three pediatric flu clinics in New Brunswick.

For the times and locations of the county’s clinics please visit or call 1-732-745-3100.  Residents can also search for flu clinics sponsored by other local health departments throughout the state by visiting

In addition to washing hands often and getting a seasonal flu shot, residents can practice other healthy habits to prevent the flu and other illnesses. Cover coughs and sneezes. Stay home if you are sick. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Avoid close contact with people who are sick and clean and disinfect shared objects.

Following these simple tips can help you and your family have a germ-free holiday season. I wish you all a very healthy and happy holiday.

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