Our monthly office newsletter arrived in my inbox last week and this is what it said: "As we change seasons we are entering into the 'Cold & Flu' season. If you are feeling under the weather or have a sick child at home, we ask that you use common sense and if at all possible work from home. As a reminder, all Penton employees have 10 sick days."
What this message really meant was: We give you plenty of sick time so please use it and don't come to work, spread your germs and get the rest of us sick.
A new survey from CVS found that two out of three employed adults report to work even when they feel ill with flu-like symptoms. Why? More than one third (35 percent) of the nearly 2,100 people interviewed stated they wanted to save their paid-time-off (PTO) days.
The study also found that only 59 percent of adults said they plan on getting a flu shot this year, and of those who plan on getting vaccinated, two in five (38 percent) U.S. adults wait until October to get vaccinated from the flu. An estimated one in six people will catch the flu this year in the United States.
Many doctors agree: the flu shot is the best line of defense from the flu. Additionally, nearly half of the survey respondents are not aware that flu vaccinations are fully covered under the Affordable Care Act, available at no cost through most insurance plans.
“One of the most effective ways to prevent yourself from catching the flu – whether in the workplace, at school, or at home – is to get a flu shot every year,” said Papatya Tankut, RPh and vice president of pharmacy affairs for CVS Health. “It’s important to get vaccinated every year because the immunity provided by the vaccine declines over time. It takes up to two weeks for your immunity to build up after getting a flu shot, so consider getting it early in the fall, before the typical peak of flu season during winter.”
Tankut offered these additional precautions to prevent catching flu in the workplace:
Frequently wash hands throughout the day – Touching everyday items like door handles, keyboards and other surfaces can be difficult to avoid. To help combat germs, wash hands frequently – especially after coughing or sneezing – with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds and avoid touching your mouth, eyes and nose areas. Alcohol-based soaps and hand sanitizers especially are effective when you are on-the-go, such as spending the day at an off-site location during work hours.
Practice good health habits - Getting plenty of sleep, being physically active, managing stress, drinking adequate fluids and eating nutritious food are all healthy habits that can help to keep your immune system in top condition during flu season.
Educate your colleagues – An effective way to keep your workplace as germ-free as possible is by educating your colleagues on prevention. Some workplaces hold flu prevention workshops or provide flu vaccinations to employees. If your workplace does not, spread the word by sharing informative brochures and articles; supplying your office mates with cleaning products and sanitizer; or simply sharing your experience when getting a flu shot – it may prompt them to do the same.
Keep a workplace wellness kit – Whether tucked away in your desk drawer or available to the entire workplace, be sure to have an ample supply of the following wellness essentials: tissues, alcohol-based hand sanitizer, cough drops or lozenges and daily vitamins.