Minimizing the Impact of Flu Season

 

For most of us, the season of winter includes more time indoors, colder weather, limited hours of daylight, and the risk of exposure to flu illness.  Sometimes even the most proactive actions can still result in illness.  It is important to take the necessary actions to preclude widespread illness, which can have adverse impacts both at home and in the working environment.  The following information, excerpted from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) bulletin Everyday Preventive Actions Can Help Fight Germs, Like Flu, provides helpful reminders for increasing your chances of not becoming sick.

 

 

CDC Says “Take 3” Actions to Fight Flu

 

1. Take time to get a flu vaccine.

2. Take everyday preventive actions that help slow the spread of germs that cause respiratory (nose, throat and lungs) illnesses like flu.

3. If you get sick with flu, take prescription antiviral drugs if your doctor prescribes them. Early treatment is especially important for older people, young children, people with certain chronic health conditions and pregnant people.

 

How Flu is Spread

 

Flu viruses are thought to spread mainly from person to person through droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze, or talk.  Less often, a person might get flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly eyes.  Many other viruses spread the same way.  People infected with flu may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5 to 7 days after becoming sick.  That means you may be able to spread flu to someone else before you know you are sick as well as while you are sick.  Young children, those who are severely ill, and those who have severely weakened immune systems may be able to infect others for longer than 5 to 7 days.

 

Everyday Prevention Actions

      • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

      • While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.

      • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw it in the trash after you use it and wash your hands.

      • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.  If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.

      • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.

      • Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs that can cause respiratory illnesses like flu.

     

    For flu, CDC recommends that you (or your child) stay home for at least 24 hours after fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities.  Fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.  The stay-at-home guidance for COVID-19 may be different.

    In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, local governments or public health departments may recommend additional precautions be taken in your community. Follow those instructions.

     

    Preventing Respiratory Illness at Work

     

    Find out about your employer’s plans for outbreaks of flu or another illness and whether flu vaccinations are offered on site.

    Take the necessary steps to communicate your illness to your reporting supervisor per the attendance/leave work policies.

    For key meetings and critical work-related projects that may require attendance, consider using telecommunications to participate.  Web meetings, telephone conference call-ins, or other conferencing resources can help to address the concerns of staff members being present.  Check with your supervisor and Human Resources to determine your organization’s telecommunication policy.

    Train others on how to do your job so they can cover for you in case you or a family member gets sick and you have to stay home.

    To help remove germs, building maintenance should provide increased cleaning and disinfection of commonly used areas and items throughout the building, including (but not limited to): door handles, phones, key boards and conference/meeting rooms.

    Make sure your workplace has an adequate supply of tissues, soap, paper towels, alcohol-based hand rubs, and disposable wipes.

    If you begin to feel sick while at work, go home as soon as possible.

     

    Flu Virus Vaccinations

     

    For flu prevention, vaccine is the key to increasing your chances of not contracting the flu.  The CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine as the first and most important step in protecting against flu viruses.

    Many deaths each year from flu are largely in older people and in people with underlying conditions. The flu can make a healthy adult feel very ill and keep them out of work for days.

     

    According to the CDC, the at-risk population includes people who have certain medical conditions including asthma, diabetes, and chronic lung disease; pregnant women; people 65 years and older; and children under five (especially those two years old).

    Many local pharmacies, grocery stores and company-sponsored wellness programs offer flu vaccination programs.  For more information about Flu Vaccination, visit https://www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent/flushot.htm

     

    Seasonal Flu Vaccines | CDC Flu shot info including recommended groups, effectiveness and flu-like symptoms – CDCwww.cdc.gov

     

    The CDC reports that the composition of flu vaccines has been updated.  For the 2022-23 flu season, there are three flu vaccines that are preferentially recommended for people 65 years and older.  These are Fluzone High-Dose Quadrivalent vaccine, Flublok Quadrivalent recombinant flu vaccine and Fluad Qaudrivalent adjuvanted flu vaccine.

     

    The recommended timing of vaccination is similar to last season. For most people who need only one dose for the season, September and October are generally good times to get vaccinated.  Vaccination in July and August is not recommended for most adults but can be considered for some groups.  While ideally it’s recommended to get vaccinated by the end of October, it’s important to know that vaccination after October can still provide protection during the peak of flu season.