Menominee Falls – Wisconsinites and the rest of the country have good reason to be concerned about the flu this year. The flu vaccine has been estimated to be just 48 percent effective, according to a recent report by the Wisconsin Academy of Family Physicians. Plus, the flu season typically extends from October through May, as evidenced by the recent surge in flu cases in Wisconsin.
On a positive note, a recent survey found more Americans are protecting themselves against this year’s late-arriving flu season with one simple, yet effective, habit – hand washing.
According to the annual Healthy Hand Washing Survey conducted by Bradley Corporation, 70 percent of adults wash their hands more thoroughly or more frequently in response to a flu virus outbreak. Moreover, those who increase their hand washing is up 10 percent from last year. Bradley Corp. is a Wisconsin-based manufacturer of commercial hand washing products.
The uptick in hand washing diligence may be due to the fact that 53 percent of Americans are “extremely” or “quite” concerned about contracting the flu this year, compared to only 32 percent in 2016, according to the survey. This year, younger adults are the most concerned about getting the flu with 70 percent of those aged 18-34 reporting this elevated level of concern, compared with only 35 percent of those 55 and older.
“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says washing with soap and water for a good 20 seconds is a highly effective tool in removing germs and staying healthy, especially during increased flu activity,” says Jon Dommisse, director of global marketing & strategic development, Bradley Corp.
Concern about germs in public restrooms also appears to be a big hand washing motivator. In fact, the survey found that people go out of their way to avoid coming in contact with restroom germs by operating the toilet flusher with their foot; using a paper towel when touching the restroom door, flusher or faucet; hovering above the toilet seat; and opening and closing doors with their behind.
While flu outbreaks and germy restroom surfaces are boosting hand hygiene practices, there still is room for improvement. Just two-thirds of Americans say they always wash their hands after using a public restroom and 67 percent admit they have skipped the soap and just rinsed with water. Perhaps most revealing is that 82 percent of Americans frequently or occasionally see others leave a public restroom without washing.
The annual Healthy Hand Washing Survey queried 1,042 American adults online Dec. 12-15, 2016 about their hand washing habits in public restrooms and concerns about germs, colds and the flu. Participants were from around the country, were 18 years and older, and were fairly evenly split between men and women (49 and 51 percent).