"Do it yourself" vaccine
The other day I was helping my grandma watch my cousin Emma. Like most
three year olds, Emma wants to do everything herself, but some things she just hasn’t
figured out yet. Like how to tie her shoes, or how to properly wash her hands.
After using the little girl’s room, she immediately jumped up ready to wash her hands and
get back to running wild. Like I said, proper handwashing isn’t something she’s figured out
yet… so after approximately .2 seconds of rinsing and scrubbing, she was satisfied with her
Unfortunately for her, I wasn’t. Thinking back, I tried to remember how I was taught to
wash my hands. I’m 22, so I was taught handwashing almost two decades ago, but after a
second I remembered. The alphabet song.
As a kid, some things you’re taught are silly, like trying to pat your head and rub your belly
at the same time. But most of the time, the things you’re taught are useful and stick with
you, like singing the ABC’s while washing your hands.
Of course, parents and teachers always have a reason for teaching us the things they do.
But with handwashing, I really think they were on to something. Proper handwashing
involves washing your hands for approximately 20 seconds, which is the amount of time it
takes to sing your ABC’s.
Washing your hands the accurate amount of time reduces the likelihood of missing dirt and
leaving harmful germs behind. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) refers to
proper handwashing as the “do-it- yourself” vaccine. That’s because washing your hands
effectively can protect you and your loved ones from the spread of diarrheal and
Here at the Grafton-Taylor County Health Department, we take handwashing seriously. We
know proper hygiene and handwashing is your first line of defense against viruses and
dangerous bacteria. To encourage proper handwashing techniques, we offer fun and
interactive demonstrations for school classrooms using the GlitterBug system.
The GlitterBug system involves putting a magic “potion” on your hands, and then washing
them normally. Once your hands have been washed, simply put your hands in the
GlitterBug where the black lights will show you where the “potion” remains on your skin,
representing where germs still reside.
This demonstration has proven popular with school age children and is a unique way to
show them the germs they can’t normally see. We offer these demonstrations to the
community free of charge.
If you’d like more information on proper handwashing or want to schedule a GlitterBug
demonstration, contact our Public Health Nurses at 304-265- 1288 or visit our website at