Because of the COVID-19 pandemic over the past year and a half, the topic of infection prevention and control has received a lot of attention. The focus on proper hand hygiene, masking, and social distancing as it relates to the pandemic have brought awareness to this topic now more than ever. These basics of infection prevention are important to consider and practice not only during Infection Prevention Week but also throughout the rest of the year—pandemic or not.

“Hand hygiene is the number one way to prevent the spread of infection including many viruses and bacteria,” said Ashley McDaniel MSN RN CIC, Certified Infection Preventionist for Southwell. “You should wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with warm, soapy water before preparing or eating food, after coughing or sneezing, after changing a diaper, and after using the restroom. When soap and water are not readily available, you can use an alcohol based hand sanitizer.”

While masking and social distancing have received special attention during the pandemic, McDaniel said these practices are helpful in reducing the spread of other illnesses like the flu and strep throat.

“If you are sick or feel you may be coming down with something, you should stay home except to seek medical care, get rest, and stay hydrated,” said McDaniel. “With flu season upon us and the ongoing pandemic, avoiding gatherings, even if you think all you have is a cold, is an important and helpful way to reduce the spread of disease and help protect your community.”

McDaniel also stressed the importance of vaccines in infection prevention.

“By now, everyone has heard about the COVID-19 vaccine,” said McDaniel. “We encourage you to get the COVID-19 vaccine if you have not already and are eligible. In addition to the COVID-19 vaccine, getting a flu vaccine every year and staying up to date on other immunizations such as tetanus will reduce your risk of contracting and spreading those illnesses as well.”