With so much focus on COVID-19 and booster vaccinations in the last six months, it is important to remember to encourage your workers to get an annual influenza shot.
Travel restrictions, community lockdowns, social distancing and staying at home when sick during the pandemic has resulted in historically low flu numbers, but health authorities are warning we shouldn’t get complacent. As travellers arrive from overseas and the community returns to relative normality, it’s likely other respiratory viruses will start circulating again.
Becoming infected with a combination of COVID-19 and influenza could also be very dangerous, especially for the more vulnerable, like the elderly or those with other pre-existing health problems. More than ever, sick workers must be told to stay home – and protecting yourself with a flu shot helps to protect any vulnerable people you come into contact with.
Like COVID-19, flu viruses in respiratory droplets from a cough or a sneeze can travel up to 1.5 metres. Employers should ensure workplace hygiene standards are established and maintained and consider funding a flu vaccination program for employees. The associated cost is likely to be offset by reduced sick-leave and absenteeism. The flu shot is definitely the best way to guard against influenza, but personal hygiene helps a lot.
Personal hygiene prevention measures include:
- covering your mouth and nose with tissues when you cough or sneeze, and disposing of used tissues in a bin
- washing your hands after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose, after coming in contact with someone who has the flu, and before eating and drinking
- cleaning phones or keyboards between users with a detergent wipe
- keeping your distance from others if you are coughing or sneezing
- staying at home while you are sick, and seeing your doctor if you are concerned about your symptoms
- cleaning common area surfaces regularly with detergent and warm water and dry thoroughly.