Kersey spearheads flu prevention effort

Councilman Mark Kersey, branch librarian Trevor Jones and WAXIE Sanitary Supply regional sales manager Umahl Anderson commemorate the installation of a hand sanitizing station at the Scripps Miramar Ranch Library on Nov. 20. (photo by Cynthia Kurose)

Kersey spearheads flu prevention effort

For City Councilman Mark Kersey, protecting himself, his family and his community from the flu is a very personal mission. In 2014, Kersey suddenly and unexpectedly lost his 38-year-old brother to the H1N1 flu virus, complicated by pneumonia and a bacterial infection. Sadly, he left behind a wife and four young children.

This flu season, Kersey said that he is thankful for the opportunity to turn tragedy in to action. Through generous donations from WAXIE Sanitary Supply and GOJO, the makers of Purell hand sanitizer, Councilman Kersey has procured donated hand sanitizing stations for every recreation center and public library in the City of San Diego.

“We don’t think it could happen to us or a loved one, but the threat of the flu is real, even for young, healthy people,” Kersey said. “I’m thankful for WAXIE and GOJO’s partnership to help San Diegans fight the flu.”

The Scripps Miramar Ranch Library marked the final location of the 93 community facilities to receive a Purell dispenser. Trevor Jones is the branch librarian, and was on-hand to welcome Kersey and Umahl Anderson, WAXIE Sanitary Supply regional sales manager, for the installation.

Jones explained that while the library has previously purchased personal hand sanitizer bottles for patrons to use at the front desk, he was excited about the larger footprint and visibility of the new automatic dispenser and hoped it would encourage greater utilization.

“It fulfills a huge need we have,” Jones said. “Being in a public library, public health is a big thing. It’s really great to see City officials caring and doing something about it with a preventive step like this.”

Doctor Bethani Bernaba is a family medicine physician at Sharp Rees-Stealy Mira Mesa and a Scripps Ranch resident who is a big advocate for preventive measures to combat the flu.

“It is recommended that everyone over the age of six months receive the flu shot,” said Bernaba, who recommends the vaccine to all of her patients. “It’s really our best defense against the flu.”

Acknowledging skepticism over whether the vaccine could be to blame for causing the flu, Bernaba said, “a lot of people think that they get sick from the flu shot, but that is impossible. What oftentimes can happen is you get an immune system response to the shot. And that’s actually a good sign because … you’re ‘building up your armies’ so that if you do get exposed to flu, you can fight it off a lot better.”

Last season, 342 people in San Diego County, alone, died from complications from the flu. While the 2017-2018 season represented an anomalous number of cases of influenza and flu-related deaths, Bernaba said that, this season, she is still seeing what she would classify as a normal number of flu cases in a typical year.

Flu shots are offered at medical offices and pharmacies throughout the county, many without an appointment. Sharp Rees-Stealy and Scripps Health facilities do require an appointment, but can be accessed easily with a nurse visit, and do not require an appointment with a primary care provider. Patients at Kaiser Permanente in Rancho Bernardo can walk in without an appointment to receive a flu vaccine at an on-site nurses clinic. Many pharmacies at retail locations throughout the county also offer flu shots on a walk-in basis, including CVS, Walgreens and Target.

Aside from receiving the flu shot, washing hands frequently is another effective step for protection and minimizing the spread of germs to others.

“Wash your hands, dry your hands and sanitize,” said Anderson, who hopes that his company’s donation of sanitizer dispensers will help to encourage this practice.

If you do find yourself afflicted with the flu, Doctor Bernaba offers this advice: “Stay home and rest and keep yourself well hydrated. What your body needs most is rest. If after the first three to four days you feel that you are getting worse, it might not be a bad idea to put a call in to your doctor to get their advice.”

Check with your medical provider or dial 211 for access to flu shot locations throughout San Diego County.

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