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Working With the Flu

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What is Influenza (also called Flu)?

The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The best way to prevent the flu is by getting a flu vaccination each fall.

Every year in the United States, on average:

  • 5% to 20% of the population gets the flu;
  • more than 200,000 people are hospitalized from flu complications, and;
  • about 36,000 people die from flu.

Some people, such as older people, young children, and people with certain health conditions, are at high risk for serious flu complications.

Symptoms of Flu

Symptoms of flu include:

  • fever (usually high)
  • headache
  • extreme tiredness
  • dry cough
  • sore throat
  • runny or stuffy nose
  • muscle aches
  • Stomach symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, also can occur but are more common in children than adults


Complications of Flu

Complications of flu can include bacterial pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections, dehydration, and worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma, or diabetes.


Working With the Flu

Simple and plain working while you have the flu is a big no-no. No one knows any doctor or caring husband or wife who will encourage their patient or spouse to go in to work full knowing they have the flu. It is dangerous and potentially fatal. Here is why. As stated in previous articles we know that the flu does a number on your immune and respiratory systems as well as causing fever, headaches and soar throats. So why would anyone want to work under these conditions? No matter what your profession is, working with the flu disables you in a number of ways from performing your job effectively. More importantly you can spread the contagious virus to co-workers and the general public.

Let's start with the reason why working with the flu is harmful to you and why it isn't a good idea to do so. First, one of the most vital things to do when you are battling the flu is getting an immense amount of rest. Rest is the key factor here and you will be unable to rest while working. It doesn't matter if you are sitting behind a desk in the office, answering telephones at a counter or waiting on tables in a restaurant, which is on of the worst job to have when you have the flu. Working requires you to be alert, comprehensive and attentive to what you are doing. Since fever and headache comes along with the flu it would be extremely difficult for you to maintain your normal work habits and responsibilities.

Working with the flu also makes you to forget to drink the amount of liquids you are supposed to or may cause you to stop in the middle of doing something frequently to take medicine or to drink water and juice. Working with the flu puts you in a bad mood, makes you forgetful and a days pay is not worth all that comes with. Yes going to work while sick is showing dedication to your job, but the flu is more severe than the common cold or a minor headache. It's an airborne virus that you can spread to the public and cripple your office or place of business. Is it really worth it? Not only can you almost kill yourself but you can also infect others around you. What could have been a single case of flu at your office can turn into an office-wide flu situation, which is a lot more dangerous overall. Your office may have to close and you will feel bad having infected everyone around you because you wanted to save those extra sick days.

So, stay home when you have flu symptoms. You should know that anytime you have a fever, you are likely contagious. At first sign of those symptoms, get yourself to a doctor and start getting better. There is nothing at work that can't wait for you to heal and your co-workers will certainly appreciate the fact that you are not spreading the flu to them.

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Who Should Get Vaccinated?

In general, anyone who wants to reduce their chances of getting the flu can get vaccinated. However, certain people should get vaccinated each year either because they are at high risk of having serious flu-related complications or because they live with or care for high risk persons. During flu seasons when vaccine supplies are limited or delayed, ACIP makes recommendations regarding priority groups for vaccination.

People who should get vaccinated each year are:

1. People at high risk for complications from the flu, including:

  • Children aged 6–59 months of age,
  • Pregnant women,
  • People 50 years of age and older,
  • People of any age with certain chronic medical conditions, and
  • People who live in nursing homes and other long term care facilities.

2. People who live with or care for those at high risk for complications from flu, including:

  • Household contacts of persons at high risk for complications from the flu (see above)
  • Household contacts and out of home caregivers of children less than 6 months of age (these children are too young to be vaccinated)
  • Health care workers.

3. Anyone who wants to decrease their risk of influenza.


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