According to the World Health Organization, there are approximately 3 to 5 million cases of severe influenza each year, causing up to 650,000 deaths. The flu is incredibly contagious, can be spread in many different ways, and we are all at risk of being exposed to the virus.
How does the flu impact the workplace?
Unlike colds which are irritating but not disabling, influenza symptoms render most people unable to be productive at work. Symptoms include headache, fever, body aches, and even hallucinations. The typical course of influenza is roughly 7-10 days and is high contagious, so everyone is at risk if someone brings the virus to the workplace. For companies, that can mean losing a majority of their staff for up to 2 weeks, resulting in drastically reduced productivity.
What can companies do to fight the flu?
Many companies will organize an on-site flu vaccination day, or pay for all of their employees to get a flu shot. These are the most effective ways to prevent or significantly reduce the effects of flu in the workplace. Companies should also make alcohol-based gels like Purell readily available. Alcohol gels dehydrate viruses like influenza and also kill many forms of bacteria that can cause other illnesses. Additionally, companies should educate their workforce to not touch their nose, mouth, or eyes, in addition to encouraging employees to stay home when sick. At U.S. HealthWorks Medical Group, we can provide informative collateral and communication tools to help educate the workforce.
What should you do with a sick employee?
If your employee(s) are showing signs of the flu, consider sending them home immediately to avoid it spreading. Have sick leave in place for when your employees need it. It’s also important to educate people about the virus and how to avoid contracting it.
What can you do to stay ahead of the flu?
Everyone should get a flu shot as early in the season as possible. A new flu shot is developed every year to combat the most common flu viruses that are predicted to circulate. The vaccine for 2017 is very effective against 3 major flu viruses, and moderately effective against a 4th virus. Considering the 4th virus, that means partial immunity (reduced symptoms). Flu shots last throughout the year and once you are immunized for the current year’s viruses you’ll be protected against them in the future. Beyond a flu shot, it’s important to get enough sleep, maintain a healthy diet, and get plenty of physical activity. The healthier you are in general, the harder it is for you to get sick. In addition, be sure to use soap and/or sanitary wipes on public surfaces (especially in grocery stores) to kill viruses and bacteria that cause illness.
Is there any reason to not get a flu shot?
There’s a myth that you can get the flu from the flu shot. This is not scientifically accurate. The flu shot is made up of proteins from the walls of the virus, but does not contain a live virus that can cause an infection. There is no medical reason to not get a flu shot every year as it is your best defense against influenza.
Why is there no universal cold vaccine?
The annual flu shot is made to combat the handful of common viruses that cause influenza in humans. There are new strains of the flu that emerge every year, which is why an annual flu shot is necessary. Colds, however, are caused by so many viruses that there is not one singular vaccine that can cover the entire viral family. Your best defense against colds is maintaining a healthy lifestyle, washing your hands frequently, and avoiding touching your face.
You think you have the flu. Now what?
Come see a specialist at the U.S. HealthWorks Medical Group near you. We can provide oral medication to fight influenza, which must be taken within 48 hours of symptoms first appearing or it will not be effective. If you’re an adult that’s sick at home, you can take ibuprofen or tylenol to help combat your symptoms. Do not double up on tylenol if you are experiencing a particularly nasty flu, as that can cause liver damage. Because they have no overlapping toxicity, you can take ibuprofen and tylenol together to relieve flu symptoms. Do not use aspirin for high fevers in children; however, tylenol is a safe alternative.
How does U.S. HealthWorks Medical Group fight the flu?
All of our centers are equipped to provide flu prevention advice or to treat an existing illness. If you do have the flu, we can provide an anti-flu pill, Tamiflu, and other remedies to lessen your symptoms for a faster recovery. If you contract the flu, go to your local U.S. HealthWorks Medical Group. Unlike your family doctor, we can see you on the same day even if you don’t have an appointment. At U.S. HealthWorks Medical Group, our goal is to give everyone the tools needed to prevent or fight back against influenza.