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Health officials warn of places with the most germs

On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control is saying the biggest population of people who are skipping their flu shot, are the ones who likely need it the most.

Those between the ages of 65 and 74 are deciding to forego getting vaccinated, but that could be problematic – especially for those who live more sedentary lifestyles.

Southeastern Idaho Public Health epidemiologist Jeff Doerr explains why this age group is the most at risk when it comes to contracting respiratory viruses.

“A lot of them who are in more of a confined situation or who are not as mobile, we’ll usually see more of an influenza increase with them in the fall and winter months, because people aren’t outside having that exchange of fresh air,” Doerr said.

The CDC and Doerr both warn, it’s important for everyone to be careful of areas that contain high levels of germs and bacteria, especially during these months that see a spike in these illnesses.

1. Public restrooms: Most people believe the toilet is the spot to avoid, but germs in the sink can survive the longest.

2. The mall: Turns out, the rags we see employees using to clean those food court tables are usually pretty dirty and can spread bacteria such as E. coli. Handrails on stairs and escalators are also a common place to pick-up germs.

3. Grocery stores: A quick run to grab some orange juice, chicken noodle soup and cold medicine leaves a lot of time for spreading germs. The CDC notes, between 70 and 80 percent of shopping cars have E. coli on them.

4. Libraries and Public places: Rails inside public buses are some of the worst germ-cultivating culprits, along with public computer keyboards at the library. It’s a good idea to immediately wash your hands after coming into contact with any of that.

5. Purses and messenger bags: If you set them on the floor, just remember how many people have walked along that area beforehand, and who knows where their shoes have been.

6. Toothbrushes and kitchen sponges: In this case, we’re not immune to our own germs. Doerr advises, since toothbrushes are some of the worst culprits, it’s a good idea to discard them often, particularly after you’ve contracted the flu or a cold.

Remember, it’s a good idea to keep that hand sanitizer handy, but it never takes the place of washing your hands.

“One of the best practices to do – 90 percent of all communicable illnesses could have been prevented by good hand hygiene, so make sure you’re always washing your hands after going to the restroom, after handling money, and especially before you eat,” Doerr added.

And the myth about getting that flu shot? Doerr said the flu vaccine is a dead virus, so you can’t actually pick-up the flu from the vaccination.

“Remember, if you get that vaccination, it takes a couple of weeks for the anitbodies to develop to give you that full immunity.”

At the same time, Doerr said it’s possible for someone to contract the flu virus before the full immunity kicks-in, and that’s where we get that common misconception about the flu vaccine.

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