HealthONE - September 25, 2018

For those who work in an office, the flu season can be a time of worry and dread. Many of us don’t want to be surrounded by people who might be coughing, sniffling and sneezing at their desks, but it’s hard to completely avoid the spread of germs and viruses from other coworkers in the office.

However, there are ways to protect yourself during flu season if you work in an office. Here are some tips to help you prevent and combat the spread of illnesses at work, at school and other public places:

  1. Get vaccinated
    The best thing to do to prevent the flu is to get the annual flu vaccine. Getting a flu shot also helps you combat the spread of the virus, even if you don’t get sick during the flu season. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the best time to get a flu shot is in the fall, as the flu season typically runs from October through May. There are multiple places to get the flu vaccine, including your doctor’s office, a local health clinic or a nearby pharmacy.
  1. Limit contact with coworkers
    According to the CDC, droplets containing the flu virus can spread up to six feet through the air. It’s best to keep an even greater distance from others who might be sick or have the flu. If there are multiple people in the office who are fighting an illness, suggest a conference call over the phone — as a way to avoid viruses spreading if everyone is crammed into the same meeting room.
  1. Wash your hands frequently
    Washing your hands often with soap and water or a disinfectant sanitizer can aid in helping you prevent the flu. Make sure to wash your hands thoroughly and use a disinfectant with at least 60 percent alcohol if you aren’t able to wash with soap and water. Washing your hands regularly stops the spread of germs.
  1. Disinfect your workspace on a regular basis
    Believe it or not, the flu virus can live on surfaces (like desks and countertops) for up to 48 hours. Disinfect all heavily-trafficked areas in the office to fight the spread of germs and flu viruses. Don’t forget about doorknobs, the kitchenette/coffee area, phones, bathrooms and anywhere in the office that people might congregate. Computers, keyboards and desk chairs should also be wiped down regularly.
  1. Eat a healthy diet during flu season — and year-round
    Especially during the flu season, it’s important to boost your immunity by eating a nutritious diet, getting an adequate amount of exercise, reducing your stress and making sure you get the right amount of sleep every night.

Even if you take the above steps, it’s still possible to contract the flu. If you have the flu, it’s best to stay home for at least 24 hours and until your fever has gone down. For certain populations, flu symptoms can be a sign of something more serious, so call your doctor if your symptoms worsen or you’re worried about severe flu complications.