The old adage from Ben Franklin, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” might be the one piece of advice small-business owners should take seriously this year.
How serious is it?
The government predicts that between 10 and 60 million Americans are affected by seasonal flu. That contributes to nearly 70 million missed days of work and a mind-numbing $10 billion dollars in sick leave. Small businesses with 30 employees or less are at the greatest risk of major impact.
How to protect your business?
- Get a flu shot: With flu numbers on the rise, a proactive approach is prudent. The most effective tool in the prevention of influenza is the flu vaccination, which can reduce the chance of getting the flu by 70 to 90 percent. The seasonal flu vaccine is widely available and, in some cases, might be covered under standard medical insurance plans.
- Consider a swine flu vaccination: Typically, a single vaccine for seasonal flu is sufficient, but due to the increase in swine flu (H1N1), some patients are being advised to receive a separate vaccination. The swine flu vaccine will be more difficult to obtain and reserved for certain patients at higher risk. Many companies have seen a dramatic improvement in attendance and overall wellness when participating in a flu vaccine program. In mid-Missouri, swine flu vaccinations will be distributed through the Boone County Health Department.
- The basics: Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and throw the tissue away. Exercise strict hand-washing protocols, especially when you’re sick or around others who are sick. Wash with soap and warm water for at least 15 to 20 seconds. When soap and water are not available, alcohol-based hand sanitizers are effective in killing viruses and bacteria. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth as these are common routes of infection.
- Encourage sick leave: This might sound counterintuitive, but patients with either type of flu can be contagious as much as three days before and seven days after symptoms develop. When faced with flu-like symptoms, encourage employees to stay at home. It is advised that employees stay home until their symptoms are resolved for at least 24 hours without medication and avoid infected individuals.
To learn more about who should be vaccinated for seasonal flu and swine flu, visit www.cdc.gov/flu/ and www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/. Be prepared this season; an ounce of prevention can really yield positive results in the workplace.
Triston Brownfield, R.Ph., has been at D&H Drugstore since 2003 and a co-proprietor since 2005. You can reach him at [email protected] D&H Drugstore is a locally owned pharmacy that has been serving mid-Missouri since 1956.