As if the COVID-19 pandemic wasn't wreaking enough havoc in our community, the virus will soon have a new ally in the common flu. With the start of the influenza season looming, employers should now be planning their flu offensive.
Queensland Health says annual vaccination is the most important measure to prevent influenza and is recommended for all people aged six months and over.
It's also important to note the vaccine is not immediately effective and it generally takes 10 to 14 days for you to be fully protected.
Flu viruses spread in respiratory droplets from a cough or sneeze and droplets containing the virus can settle onto surfaces, such as doorknobs, and then spread when the surfaces are touched.
As with COVID-19 protocols, workers should be reminded that protecting themselves against influenza also helps to safeguard others more vulnerable than them. Having the flu vaccine each year is the best form of protection, and employers are urged to encourage healthy workers to get the flu shot. They should also to advise sick workers to stay home and not spread the disease.
Employers should consider funding a flu vaccination program for staff and ensure good hygiene standards around the workplace. While the flu vaccine is the best way to protect against the flu, personal hygiene also helps prevent the spread of infection, as it does with COVID-19. The associated cost may be offset by reduced sick-leave and absenteeism.
Personal hygiene prevention measures include:
- when coughing and sneezing, cover your mouth and nose with tissues or the inside of your arm, and dispose of used tissues in a bin
- wash your hands or apply alcohol-based hand rub after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose, after coming in contact with someone who has the flu, and before eating and drinking
- clean items such as phones or keyboards between users with a detergent wipe
- keep your distance from others (at least one metre) if you are coughing or sneezing
- stay at home while you are sick, and see your doctor if you are concerned about your symptoms
- clean common area surfaces regularly with detergent and warm water and dry thoroughly.
For flu prevention resources visit www.health.qld.gov.au