A couple of days ago, I stopped in the pharmacy to pick up a prescription. New signs hung on the counter and walls, advertising the times you could come in and get your annual flu shot. I felt a little guilty because I haven't gotten a flu shot for a few years. Why? Just lazy. At my last job, they brought the flu shots to the office and you simply had to walk down the hall. Now, I have to make an appointment at the pharmacy or the doctor's office and so I just haven't gotten one. This makes me a bit of a jerk, and if you don't get one either, it makes you a bit of a jerk. Here's why.
The flu is a serious illness.
We like to joke about the flu. Television shows depict people moaning on the bed and demanding all sorts of things from oppressed spouses or parents. But it's not a laughing matter. The CDC estimates that 200,000 people per year are hospitalized for the flu in the United States each year, with up to 49,000 people dying. That's no joke.
Ninety percent of us come to work while sick.
Your co-workers are walking germ factories. You are a walking germ factory. You're at work, they are at work, and everyone is sharing germs. Getting a flu shot increases the probability that the germs you're sharing aren't as deadly. Now, of course, to an immunocompromised individual, even a cold can be deadly, but the flu can be deadly to people who are seemingly healthy.
This season's flu shot should be super effective.
The CDC says that this year's shot should be super effective, compared with other years. This means that getting a flu shot substantially increases the probability that you won't get sick. If you're contagious, you won't be spreading germs around to people who couldn't get flu shots themselves.
Your job pays you to work, not to be sick.
We all know that illness happens, regardless of what we do. Sometimes we just get sick. But, we all know the flu is coming and the flu shot can prevent the flu. Your boss would love it if you were at work and, frankly, while laying on the couch, moaning, and watching Netflix sounds lovely, anybody who has had the flu can tell you that sitting through strategy meetings is a lot more fun. You want your company to be successful--whether you're the boss or just a worker bee. If it's not, you're out of a job. If everyone is out with the flu, the business isn't productive.
Try to prevent the spread through other means.
The flu shot itself can help stop it, but that's not all we can do. If you're the boss, make sure your sick policy allows for all people who are ill to take time off. Don't write anyone up for illness. Clean everything all the time--especially door handles, conference room table tops, and shared keyboards. The boss, especially, should stay home if she's sick to set an example.