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Signs Of Life

Columns by Pamela Majteles

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Posted by pam on January 14, 2011 at 10:41 pm

Originally published November 13, 2009

Reprinted with permission from Bay Area News Group – East Bay

It’s the latest move sweeping the East Bay. When you feel a sneeze or cough coming on, raise your arm, bend your elbow, and drop your mouth into the crook of your arm.

Everyone’s doing it, now that the flu season is in full swing. It brings to mind past dance crazes. Like the Macarena. The only thing missing is a catchy tune to go with it.

Even preschoolers know the move. When I take my 4-year-old to school, I’m impressed by how smoothly the little kids do it. Raise, bend, drop. They perform like a well-practiced chorus line.

This flu season is also making an old song new again. My 10-year-old daughter sings “Happy Birthday”, while washing her hands. I guess it’s all the rage in school where she learned that hand washing should take as much time as singing the birthday song twice, in order to effectively remove germs. In this latest rendition of the old classic, my daughter adds a background instrumental by forcefully rubbing her hands together as she sings. “Happy Birthday to you (rub, rub), Happy Birthday to you (rub, rub), Happy Birthday dear whoever (rub, rub), Happy Birthday to you (rub, rub).”

Without a doubt, the hottest accessory of the season is a bottle of hand sanitizer. My 13-year-old daughter won’t be seen without it. As she heads out each morning, she double-checks that she has everything she needs. Klean Kanteen water bottle, check. MAC lipstick in color “Twig”, check. Purell hand sanitizer, check. Then she tweaks the twist of the Abercrombie scarf around her neck and she’s out the door.

Bottles of hand sanitizer are also big in interior design right now. No modern environment is without one. Large pump bottles grace the counters of stores, doctors’ offices, and schools. There’s nothing too precious about this design element – it’s more about function than form.

But to be a real trendsetter this season, you need to get the H1N1 vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending it for children and young adults who are between the ages of 6 months and 24 years old, because studies show they are among the most vulnerable to H1N1 virus. But the demand for the vaccine exceeds the supply, making it hard to get. Waiting in line with my kids, outside their pediatrician’s office, we hoped to be some of the lucky ones. However, it wasn’t to be -we were turned away when supplies ran out.

With no H1N1 vaccine readily available, I’m resorting to doing things the old-fashioned way. I worry. Are my kids remembering to wash their hands at school? Will they resist sharing items such as cell phones and PE uniforms? Will other parents keep their kids home if they show signs of illness?

And I’m always listening. Today, when I heard a sneeze come from somewhere in my house, I jumped into action, knowing that one sneeze often precedes another. As I reached the top of the stairs, I saw my son’s head move back, ready to let loose again. I yelled out, “Raise, bend, drop!”

He executed beautifully. But there was no time to marvel, because my head immediately went to my next thought. I hope he’s not coming down with something.

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 License.

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