By Kristi Ries
Missed the flu shot this year? I sure did. This was more the cause of complacency mixed with indifference on my part than a strong dislike of vaccines. According to the CDC, somewhere between 5% and 20% of the entire population will come down with the flu each year. That totals more than 200,000 people with the influenza virus.
Think about it: two entire Beaver Stadiums (or Big Houses or Horseshoes, if you please) packed with hacking coughs, sniffles, sneezes and fevers. Now picture those folks distributed throughout the country, spreading their germs (sometimes unknowingly) to others in public places. Flu season in the US peaks during the dark, winter months – November through March – and 36,000 people annually do not survive it. It’s out there, and chances are, if you haven’t been already you will be exposed to the virus soon.
This is especially a concern if your occupation involves extensive interaction with other people. It puts you and the people you see every day at a greater risk of passing the virus. If you work in a high traffic area, such as in the hospitality, services or retail industries, it behooves you to use hand sanitizer frequently. Simply having a Purell pump on your desk could cut your risk significantly.
What if you start to feel as if you’re coming down with something? That creeping fatigue or chills begin to settle in, and the next thing you know, you’re reaching for your Snuggie and a hot cup of tea. This, too, will pass, but keep in mind that you are contagious in the meantime.
Know when to stay home. How do you determine if you have a cold or the flu? Generally speaking, colds are milder and typically involve respiratory issues rather than fever. If you must care for young children or elderly family members, you might consider wearing a Disposable Face Mask. These are inexpensive and will shield those most vulnerable from your contagions.
Lastly, know when to see a doctor. If symptoms persist for more than a week, or become extremely severe (despite the use of over-the-counter medication), make an appointment with your physician immediately.