8 Steps for Surviving Flu Season at Work

Michael Galvan

You see a co-worker sniffle. The delivery man coughs as he hands you a package. Children with runny noses wipe their hands on their coats. Flu season is upon us. From October until mid-May, the flu virus is widespread in the northern hemisphere. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that between 5-20% of United States residents contract the infectious disease each year, and that more than 200,000 people are hospitalized.1 You could be next.

So what can you do to avoid spreading the flu? 

1. Get a flu shot.

A flu vaccine is the number one way to stop influenza. Each year, vaccines are specially tailored to include several of the most prominent strains of virus. A recent study showed that the flu vaccine reduced the risk of hospitalization in children and adults of all ages by more than 70%. The effectiveness of a given vaccine depends on several factors, but it is statically still the best way to avoid sickness from the flu.

2. Don’t share drinks, food, or phones.

As children, we all learn about the importance of sharing--but flu season is the time to be selfish. Avoid touching objects used by somebody who appears to be sick. Don’t share drinks, food, or use other people’s phones.

3. Wash your hands regularly.

It’s simple, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t do it. Use water and soap to kill germs. It’s an easy but effective way to help combat potential illness.

4. Keep things clean.

Door knobs, kitchen counter tops, keyboards, and faucets are prime offenders. Wash and disinfect these areas and other high-traffic surfaces.

5. Keep a healthful routine.

Get plenty of rest, eat nutritious foods, exercise, and drink water. Keeping yourself in fighting shape is one of the best defenses against sickness. Managing stress will also  help keep your immune system functioning at 100%.

6. Cover your mouth and nose whenever you sneeze or cough.

It can take several days after you are infected for symptoms to arise. Don’t take any chances, be sure to cover your mouth and nose whenever you sneeze or cough. This can  help prevent you from spreading the flu.

7. Avoid crowds.

Thinking about going out to eat at lunch? Maybe pick somewhere less crowded or bring your lunch to work during flu season. Whenever you mingle with the crowd, you  increase your exposure to more germs through touching and sneezing in close contact with others. If you know you will be in meetings or group events, limit your  proximity to others.

8. Stay home if you get sick.

If you do get sick, stay home. It’s better to rest at home for a few days than infect all of your coworkers—and it’ll help you feel better sooner, too.

Use these tips to help combat flu season at home and at the office. No one likes being sick, and by following these rules you can lower your risk for contracting the influenza virus and infecting others. Don’t forget your flu shot!