Flu Season is Serious Business for Employers

Click here for a one-minute podcast on preventing the flu, courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Click here for a one-minute podcast on preventing the flu, courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Have you used an office phone, had a face-to-face conversation or inhaled today? If so, you could be one of the estimated 62 million Americans who will catch the flu this year.

Each flu season, Americans miss nearly 111 million workdays. That equals approximately $7 billion per year in sick days and lost productivity.

Flu season starts in the fall and peaks in January and February. Texas Mutual encourages employers to promote these everyday preventive measures among their employees:

  1. Get a flu shot. Experts agree that getting a flu shot is the most effective thing you can do to protect yourself from the flu. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone who is six months old or older get vaccinated, especially those in a high-risk group. Many pharmacies, clinics and community centers offer free or low-cost flu shots.
  2. Learn how the flu spreads. Flu viruses are thought to spread mainly from person to person through droplets made when people with the flu cough, sneeze or talk. Flu viruses also may spread when people touch something with the flu virus on it, and then touch their mouth, eyes or nose.
  3. Each flu season, Americans miss nearly 111 million workdays. That equals approximately $7 billion per year in sick days and lost productivity.
  4. Wash your hands. Wash your hands often with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub. And avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. That is how germs spread.
  5. Get some space. Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
  6. Take care of yourself. Employee wellness and safety are inseparable. Get plenty of sleep and exercise, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids and eat healthy food.
  7. Keep coughs and sneezes to yourself. Cough and sneeze into your elbow or a tissue. If you use a tissue, immediately throw it in the trash.
  8. Learn the symptoms of the flu. Symptoms can include coughing, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, fatigue, vomiting, diarrhea, fever and chills. It is important to note, however, that not everyone who has the flu will experience fever.
  9. Know what to do if you get sick. If you suspect you have the flu, the CDC recommends you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone, without the use of fever-reducing medications, except to seek medical care. It is important to see your doctor as soon as possible because the flu can exacerbate chronic medical conditions. It can also lead to other illnesses, such as bacterial pneumonia and ear infections.
  10. Get more information. Free resources for protecting yourself, your family and your co-workers are available from the American Red Cross, CDC, flu.gov and texasflu.org.
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