Flu season is getting started here in the South, and now is a great time to get your office and your workers ready to battle it. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), every flu season sickens millions of Americans, hospitalizes hundreds of thousands, and kills tens of thousands. The 2017-2018 flu season was the most severe in a decade. While only moderate in severity, the 2018-2019 season was record-breaking in duration, with flu activity remaining elevated for 21 weeks. The U.S. had two different waves of flu, the first caused by H1N1 viruses and the second caused by H3N2 viruses.
Flu vaccine is the best way to prevent flu and its potentially serious complications. Last season, more than 169 million doses of flu vaccine were distributed; the most ever distributed. On September 26, the CDC released a report detailing flu vaccination coverage among the public and health care providers for the upcoming flu season.
While the best way to prevent seasonal flu is to get vaccinated each year, good health habits like covering your cough and washing your hands often can help stop the spread of germs. At work in particular, the CDC recommends:
- Routinely cleaning frequently touched objects and surfaces, including doorknobs, keyboards, and phones, to help remove germs.
- Making sure your workplace has an adequate supply of tissues, soap, paper towels, alcohol-based hand rubs, and disposable wipes.
- Providing training for employees to cover each other’s jobs in the event that someone gets sick and has to stay home.
- Having employees go home as soon as possible if they begin to feel sick while at work.
For more tips and recommendations, check out the CDC’s flu resources for businesses.
OSHA also offers a seasonal flu web page, which you can review here, that contains helpful guidance and links to resources for employers as they work to inhibit the spread of influenza in the workplace. It also includes a summary of the OSHA Worker’s Rights. This summary, and the full document to which it links, reinforces to business owners that ensuring a safe workplace includes taking reasonable precautions to prevent the spread of disease.