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10 on-the-job flu-fighting tips

When to call in sick

Call work and then call your doctor if…

  • you have a fever or feel achy
  • your cough is deep and brings up green mucus
  • your eyes are bright red and have a discharge
  • you can’t hold down food

If you’re feeling up to it, you can go to work without worrying about infecting your co-workers if…

  • you are sniffling, but don’t have a fever
  • your throat tickles or you have postnasal drip
  • your ear aches
  • you have a sinus infection

Who needs the flu vaccine?

Each year, influenza leads to 70 million lost workdays, 200,000 hospitalizations and 36,000 deaths in this country. Because viruses are constantly changing, people need to receive a new shot or the nasal-spray vaccine every year.

You should be vaccinated if you are 50 or older, have a chronic medical condition, are pregnant or live or work in close quarters with those of high risk of flu. Almost all adults, however, can safely get the vaccine (check with your doctor first to see whether you’re an exception). October or November is the best time to get vaccinated.

The tight quarters and poor ventilation of many work environments can make you susceptible to colds and flu. Follow these 10 tips to stay well and productive this season:

  1. Wash your hands frequently. Hot water and soap are best, but if you don’t have easy access to a sink, keep alcohol-based disposable wipes or gel sanitizers on hand.
  2. Keep keyboards, telephones, doorknobs and surfaces that people touch frequently clean with a disinfectant and paper towels.
  3. If you can, crack open a window to air out your space.
  4. Make sure your workplace is stocked with plenty of tissues.
  5. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth, where germs enter your system.
  6. Avoid close contact with someone who’s sick.
  7. Don’t smoke or allow smoking. If your office isn’t smoke-free, ask that it becomes so.
  8. Consider getting the flu vaccine. See Who Needs the Flu Vaccine? for guidelines.
  9. Eat well, exercise and get enough sleep. A healthy body is more likely to ward off germs than one that’s run-down.
  10. Finally, if you’re sick, stay home to recover and protect your co-workers.

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