There’s a chill in the air and winter is not far around the corner. It may bring fun in the form of fluffy snow and the chance to get outdoors to ice skate, sled or ski.
But winter is also known for something that’s not much fun: the flu.
Getting hit by the flu can bring sniffles, a sore throat, a hacking cough, muscle or body aches, nausea and a searing headache that can make life pretty miserable.
The flu is nothing to dismiss. It can be a serious illness that puts you in bed and out of commission for days. Even people who are generally healthy can get quite ill from the flu and spread it to others.
While no one can predict exactly what any particular flu season will be like, the impact it can have on the workplace is undeniable. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that the annual seasonal flu costs the nation’s economy $10.4 billion in direct costs of hospitalization and outpatient visits.
When an employee is down and out with the flu, co-workers may need to shoulder the burden of covering their jobs, making life a little harder for everyone. Experts estimate that 111 million workdays are lost to flu-related absenteeism, which translates to about $7 billion in lost productivity.
Even more seriously, the flu can be deadly, particularly for the elderly. Most flu-related deaths in recent years have been among persons 65 and older.
The best way to beat the flu is to not to get it in the first place. Getting an annual seasonal flu vaccine, either by a shot or a nasal flu vaccine, is your first line of defense. Every season, new vaccines are developed to protect against the most common circulating viruses.
The seasonal vaccine initiates the development of antibodies that protect against the viruses in the vaccine. It takes about two weeks for those antibodies to develop and be ready to rally against the invading virus.
With flu season around the corner, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends that everyone age of six months and older get a flu vaccine for the 2015-2016 season.
For more advice about the flu shot, click here.