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Coughing and Fever and Aches, Oh My!

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One Wednesday a few weeks ago, I woke up more tired than I had been when I went to bed the night before. My whole body hurt. Oh no, I thought, it’s the flu.

Spoiler alert: I did have the flu, but I didn’t go to the doctor until Friday afternoon—more than 48 hours after my first symptoms began. Instead, I went to work. 

Why didn’t I go to the doctor, you ask? Well, I didn’t have a fever or a cough. I thought I was probably just exhausted—I was busy! You know the feeling. I had one million things to do at work on top of the one million things to do in my personal time. I could not afford to take time off. It was simply out of the question.

Surely I am not the only one who has done this, right? Any one of us have been in similar shoes – being the possible culprit of spreading sickness. Your symptoms are mild, no fever; you rationalize it away. You go to work, exposing your coworkers to your “mild symptoms” or, even worse, have them expose your weakened immune system to the germs they’ve brought in from their sick family member at home. You see where I’m going with this…

When employees come to work while they are sick, the flu virus spreads more quickly to more people within your office. One or two infected employees can turn into your own version of an epidemic.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news here, but Dr. Dan Jernigan, director of the influenza division in the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, estimates there are at least 11 to 13 more weeks of influenza to go. So, even though flu season may have reached its peak, we are far from out of the woods.

Here are four ways to help keep your office healthy as this flu season continues:

1. Hang posters around your office. Everyone knows to wash their hands and cover their mouths, but a visual reminder never hurts. The CDC offers posters and fact sheets that you can download from their website.

2. Stock up on tissues and hand sanitizer. Providing supplies like tissues and hand sanitizer around the office can help employees from spreading viruses like the flu.

3. Encourage your employees to take time off. You give them sick time for a reason—remind your employees to use it if they aren’t feeling well. If possible, make arrangements for employees to work offsite or from home if they start to feel sick.

4. Offer complimentary flu shots. Contrary to popular belief, it is not too late to get the vaccine. According to the CDC, other strains of the flu often circulate later during the flu season so getting the shot now could still prevent those. Many employers, including Cobbs Allen, offer flu shots prior to flu season starting, but it’s not too late to consider a make-up day for any employees who didn’t take advantage of the benefit the first time around.