The initial conversation was polite, with coworkers asking after the health of the sick person. "I'm sorry you got sick," said one. "You don't look good," commented another. Initially, all of the coworkers sympathetically suggested that the person with the flu "go home." The conversation quickly moved to "Did you sneeze on the bagels?" and "Did you touch my mouse?" until by the end of the short skit, the workers were hiding under desks wearing surgical masks or shooting staples and throwing bagels at their sick coworker while shouting, "GO HOME!!!!!!!!!"
I rarely get the flu, maybe once every 10-15 years (knocking hard on wood right now that I didn't just jinx myself), which is fortunate, since I'm unable to take the flu vaccine. I'm allergic to raw eggs and the vaccine is cultured in eggs.
I definitely am NOT one of those people who think that people should come to work when they're sick. Particularly when such a virulent flu virus is making the rounds. People who would never risk their own personal safety or the safety of coworkers will come to work half-dead with the flu, and I just don't understand that reasoning.
First of all, none of us works at capacity when we are even mildly ill. Nausea, coughing, headaches; all of these conditions ensure that our work does not have our undivided attention. Add to that list of symptoms the high fevers, body aches and chills that often accompany flu, and that's a recipe for poor work performance.
Since you will not be working anywhere near your normal capacity if you are suffering from the flu, stay home!
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Influenza is a serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes even death. Every flu season is different, and influenza infection can affect people differently. CDC estimates that from the 1976-1977 flu season to the 2006-2007 season, flu-associated deaths each season ranged from a low of about 3,000 people to a high of about 49,000 people."
People die from the flu, stay home!
In addition to taking a flu vaccine, the CDC suggests:
- Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
- If you or your child gets sick with a respiratory illness like flu, limit contact with others as much as possible to help prevent spreading illness. Stay home (or keep your child home) for at least 24 hours after fever is gone except to seek medical care or for other necessities. Fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.
- If an outbreak of flu or another illness occurs, follow public health advice. This may include information about how to increase distance between people and other measures.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. This will block the spread of droplets from your mouth or nose that could contain germs.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
Here is what I have to say if you are thinking about coming to work if you have the flu: stay home!
If you do come into work feverish from the flu, stay the heck away from me and don't touch my stuff. Don't hand me papers, don't breath on me and for gosh sakes, don't sneeze or cough in my direction!! Better yet, to paraphrase Jimmy Kimmel's CDC public service announcement: STAY HOME!!!