Flying and flu season – Tips public health officials should share to promote healthy travel

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When the weather starts to get cold and blustery, people’s allergies increase while their immunity can decrease. Flu season is upon us, as cases of the illness start to rise in October and continue to add up until March at the earliest, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Of course, some of the largest holidays take place during these peak influenza months, making it easy for travelers to fall victim to sickness in route to another destination. Public health professionals need to disseminate information related to how people can remain well as they make their way to locations across the country. Here are four pieces of advice these officials should distribute to advocate for wellness:

    1. 1. Monitor illnesses prevalent in your destination

The CDC frequently shares and updates information regarding health activity around the world. Travelers should be sure to check these notifications before embarking on their journey and continue to monitor these announcements during the course of their travel. Additionally, people should pay attention to any illness postings once they reach their destination as well as any symptoms that emerge once they’ve landed.

    1. 2. Always be sanitizing

In Glengarry Glen Ross, Alec Baldwin’s character shares his selling strategy with his employees: “Always be closing.” Public health professionals should distribute their own game plan – “Always be sanitizing” – with seasonal travelers for optimum wellness. As people journey from one destination to another, they’ll encounter a wide array of germs on various surfaces. Whether it’s the security line floor, the bathroom counter or the plane seat itself, it’s crucial for travelers to disinfect potential hot spots to minimize their risk of becoming sick, according to Conde Nast Traveler. Carrying a bottle of hand sanitizer is a smart way to reduce the amount of germs people come into contact with.

    1. 3. Observe health for seven days

Most of the time, people experiencing any illness – even the flu – will recover after a short period of time without the help of medical care. Yet, not every traveler is as lucky. People should keep an eye on their health seven days after touching down in a new location or after returning home. If flu symptoms arise, but don’t go away after a few days, it’s time for these travelers to seek medical attention.

    1. 4. Stay home

There’s no precipice for being too sick to travel. Instead, the decision is based on the individual person and his or her symptoms. Yet, if travelers are asking if they’re too ill to board a plane, chances are it is already too late. Do what is best for yourself and your peers, and stay home if you are feeling unwell, according to The Travel Channel.

Remaining healthy during travel requires people to prepare before their trip, maintain wellness while in route and monitor their progress once they land in a new destination. Taking actions including constant sanitation will keep both travelers and their peers well.

The responsibility to educate and share this information with populations falls on public health officials. The online Master of Public Health program at the University of Arizona offers an array of courses that will not only educate students on public health theory, but also emphasize and prepare graduates for these kinds of responsibilities and tasks in their real careers.