Did you know that flu season is already underway? It’s true — and while the dangers have been largely overshadowed this year by COVID-19, both illnesses can have a serious impact on your health. In fact, the CDC argues that robust fluprevention plans may be more critical than ever. After all, influenza and COVID-19 share many of the same symptoms, and people who are at high risk of developing serious complications from one may also be at high risk from the other. With that in mind, we’ve laid out five steps you can take to stay safe while advancing your professional goals during flu season.
step one: get your flu shot
Simply put, these vaccinations help keep us all safe, and there are reasons to believe that getting them is more important than ever this year:
- There were around 410,000 flu-related hospitalizations in the U.S. last year. Beyond keeping individuals and communities safe, flu vaccinations help reduce that burden on our healthcare infrastructure — and enable healthcare workers to stay focused on fighting the global pandemic.
- The flu can intensify complications for those who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 — yet another reason why flu shots are such a key preventative measure.
So do your part and get vaccinated — it’s an essential first step. You can also help by spreading the message to coworkers that getting vaccinated matters.
step two: learn the similarities and differences between influenza and COVID-19
Influenza and COVID-19 share many of the same symptoms, but there are important differences to be aware of, too.
- sore throat
- runny or stuffy nose
- shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- muscle pain or body aches
- Flu symptoms appear faster than those of COVID-19
- COVID-19 seems to cause more serious illness in some people than the flu
- COVID-19 has also been linked to symptoms, like the loss of taste or smell, that are not typical of influenza
step three: know your risk factors
Many people who are at high risk of developing serious complications from influenza are also at high risk from COVID-19 (and vice versa). At-risk groups include:
- adults 65 years old and older
- people with respiratory ailments like asthma
- those with heart, kidney or chronic lung disease
- pregnant women
step four: workplace hygiene and etiquette
As a result of COVID-19, most of us adopted new routines: for example, rigorously washing our hands with soap and water throughout the day, using hand sanitizer and wearing face coverings in public. So if you’re returning to work with colleagues in a physical workspace, you’ll need to continue taking special precautions like social distancing, for starters. But the good news, in terms of flu prevention, is that these practices will help keep you safe this flu season.
Finally, make sure you and everyone on your team is aware of what to do when you don’t feel well. This one is pretty simple: Staying home from work if you’re sick is the heroic thing to do. And before you make your comeback, it’s a good idea to talk to your employer — and also review the guidance from health officials for safely returning to work after influenza and COVID-19.
step five: your stay-safe checklist
Here’s a quick recap of everything we’ve covered. Think of it as your go-to checklist for all of the steps you can take to remain safe and healthy this flu season.
- adopt best practices for health and safety etiquette
Create a dedicated “safety travel kit” to make traveling to and from work during this period easier — just be sure it includes a face covering, tissues and a hand sanitizer containing at least 60 percent alcohol. You might also consider reviewing proper hand-washing techniques with your coworkers.
- stay home if you’re sick
It’s extremely important for employees to stay home and rest when sick in order to prevent the spread of both influenza and COVID-19. Consult with your employer and/or a medical professional about when you can return to work safely.
- keep your workplace and workstation clean
Frequently touched objects and surfaces (door knobs, handles, light switches, etc.) are breeding grounds for bacteria and germs. If your company has returned to a collocated worksite, ask your manager what policies will be in place to ensure that these high-touch, highrisk areas are routinely cleaned and disinfected.
- get vaccinated as early as possible
This is an essential safeguard against the spread of influenza each year. You should spread the word to your colleagues, too!
Knowing the signs and symptoms of flu and COVID-19 can help you prevent negative health outcomes. At the same time, your on-the-job safety is always our number-one concern at Randstad, so if you ever have concerns about workplace safety, please notify your point of contact at Randstad immediately. We value your feedback — and we want to hear from you! Together, let’s make this your best and most productive year professionally.