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Health Care

Clean It Up: Flu Season Prediction Labeled ‘Severe’

With up to 20 percent of Americans contracting the flu annually it’s important to prep workplaces for the annual bout with illness.

Just as quickly as summer ends, flu season begins. And the 2018 flu season is expected to be an extreme one, according to an expert at Baylor College of Medicine.

flu season

One company urges its employees to work from home when sick to help keep the rest of the employee population healthy.

“There is every reason to expect that we could have a severe flu season this year,” said Dr. Robert Atmar, professor and interim chief, section of infectious diseases at the Houston-based health-science center in a statement. “It’s always hard to predict what is going to happen, but people should be prepared.”

It’s important to make sure the workplace is ready for flu season. Five to 20 percent of Americans contract the flu each year, according to WebMD.

The most effective preventive measure against the flu is to get a flu vaccine, according to Forbes. The vaccine helps a person’s immune system fight the severity against all flu strains. With predictions of a severe flu season, doctors have created vaccines that are available in the trivalent and quadrivalent forms to help fight against all flu strains, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Kris Garvey Graves, chief operating officer at boutique public relations company Henson Consulting in Chicago, offered ways her workplace tries to prevent the flu.

“We make a continual effort to offer antibacterial soap in our restrooms, we’ve got antibacterial wipes out in our common areas,” said Garvey Graves of their office, which is an open-space environment. “We always work with the building we are in [because] they have a flu shot offering for the offices in the building.”

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, on-site vaccines help increase productivity and decrease sick days off from work.

The CDC released a list of flu-shot alternatives to prevent the flu in the workplace. Knowing proper coughing and sneezing etiquette by covering the entire mouth and nose is an essential step to prevent the spread of germs, especially if it’s an open concept office.

Please also read: You’re Sick? Go Home!

Keeping hands and workspace areas clean and sanitized also was referenced in the list. Doing this helps kill bacteria that can cause employees to get sick. Another way to keep the flu from spreading at work is by encouraging employees to stay home when they become ill.

Garvey Graves said Henson Consulting supplies all their employees with a laptop to work remotely when they are ill but still can work.

“You don’t want anyone to work when they’re drastically sick, but even if you’re just coming down with a cold or not feeling well you could still get some work done. We’ll do our best to actually get you your laptop,” Garvey Graves said. “Making work accessible from multiple locations, and just giving [employees] the comfort level to know that it’s OK to work from home.”

The CDC adds that employers should track local flu situations to help them prepare and coordinate the correct steps to protect employees from the flu.

Alexis Carpello is a Workforce intern. Comment below or email editors@workforce.com.