Flu Season Etiquette

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Flu season is upon us, with cases beginning to increase in October and peaking in December and January.  According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), People with flu are most contagious in the first 3-4 days after their illness begins.  Some otherwise healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5 to 7 days after becoming sick.  Some people, especially young children and people with weakened immune systems, might be able to infect others with flu viruses for an even longer time.

Why Get Vaccinated?

Annual flu shots are recommended for everyone age six months and older, especially young children, pregnant women and people age 65 and older. The CDC recommends vaccination by the end of October, but it’s still helpful to get a shot even in January. It takes about two weeks after vaccination to develop protective antibodies.

How Do You Know If You Have the Flu?

Cold viruses are most contagious during the first few days of symptoms, which often include:

  • Fever/chills
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny/stuffy nose
  • Muscle aches, headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Vomiting and diarrhea

If you do end up getting sick, stay home! Work from home or take sick time off until you have gone 24 hours without a fever.  The best place for you to be when you have a contagious cold or flu virus is isolated in your home. That way you won’t infect your unsuspecting co-workers.

How Can You Prevent Spreading the Flu?

  • Cough and sneeze into the crook of your arm. Cover your nose and mouth. Move away from people before coughing or sneezing.
  • Wash your hands after doing any of the following: blowing your nose, coughing, sneezing, touching your mucus or contaminated objects and surfaces.
  • Don’t shake hands with anyone while you’re sick.
  • Avoiding using communal spaces or items or if you must, clean with disinfecting wipes.
  • Wear a cold/flu mask over your mouth and nose whenever possible.  These are available at most doctor’s offices or your local pharmacy/drug store