With the start of the influenza season looming, employers should now be planning their flu offensive under Queensland Health advice that annual vaccination is the most important measure to prevent the virus.
Recommended for all people aged six months and over, it is 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 can spread when the respiratory droplets or aerosols created by an infected person from coughing, sneezing or talking, are breathed in by another person. Flu viruses can also contaminate surfaces, such as doorknobs, and spread when a person touches those surfaces and then touches their eyes, nose or mouth.
Workers should be reminded that protecting themselves against influenza also helps to safeguard people more vulnerable than they are. Having the flu vaccine each year is the best form of protection, and employers are urged to encourage workers to get the flu shot if they can. They should also 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, a layered risk management approach is essential. The associated cost of vaccination may be offset by reduced sick-leave and absenteeism.
Additional risk prevention measures include:
- stay at home while you are sick, and see your doctor if you are concerned about your symptoms
- practice social distancing
- when coughing and sneezing cover your mouth and nose with tissues or the inside of your elbow, and dispose of used tissues in a bin
- wash your hands with soap and running water or apply alcohol-based hand rub after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose, after coming in contact with someone with flu-like symptoms, and before eating, drinking or smoking
- clean items such as phones or keyboards between users with a detergent wipe
- clean frequently touched surfaces and common area surfaces regularly with detergent and warm water and dry thoroughly.