Whether you get the flu shot or not, there are other ways to minimize your risk of getting it and your risk of passing it on.
Do you have flu-like symptoms? Fever, vomiting, diarrhea? Stay home. I know. That can be a really challenging thing for a lot of people. In my previous job I reported to a manager who made it extremely difficult for people to stay home sick, and the result was one sick person turning into an office full of sick people. Lather, rinse, repeat. If that one sick person had stayed home to recover, the rest wouldn’t have contracted the illness.
‘I can’t take a day off to keep my child home from school.’ I know that this is a huge obstacle for a lot of parents. I also know how quickly one child with a fever can become a classroom full of children with fevers, and how quickly those children’s families can get sick. Most schools and daycare centres have strict rules about attendance during illness. Colds are everywhere, and you can’t take time off for every sniffle. The average kid gets six colds a year. They’re just a fact of life. But when you’re looking at a fever, vomiting, or diarrhea, they can’t be in a classroom or centre with other kids. They can’t. Please don’t mask a fever with Tylenol and send them in. Keep them home until they’ve been without these symptoms for 24 hours.
And I realize what a big deal this can be for a lot of people. It’s a big ask. That said, one sick kid at school cost us Jude. It’s no one person’s fault, and I’m sure the parents of whichever child it was had no idea how serious that illness could be for others in the classroom. But those rules are in place for a reason – to protect the rest of the community. There’s no way to know who the people around you have at home and how vulnerable they may be. Chances are, someone around you is either at higher risk themselves, or goes home to someone who is pregnant, someone who is an infant, someone who is elderly, or someone with cancer or another illness that compromises immunity. Let’s protect those people.
If you are an employer or manage employees, please try to be understanding when people take time off for illness, their own or their children’s.
BE UPFRONT ABOUT ILLNESS
If we have plans and you’re suddenly feeling terrible, please tell me. Give people the heads up when you’re fighting something so they can do what they need to.
WASH YOUR HANDS
Good hand hygiene is always important, but it becomes more important as the disease circulates. Wash your hands at least eight times a day for 20 seconds each time with soap and water, and more if necessary.
COVER YOUR MOUTH AND NOSE
The flu is mostly spread through tiny droplets that escape when you cough, sneeze, or talk. Cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough to keep that contained. Keep tissues with you, and try to cough into your sleeve instead of your hands. And then go wash your hands again.
DISINFECT FREQUENTLY USED SURFACES
Fridge door handle. Doorknobs. Phones. Computer keyboard. TV Remote. Keys. Drawer pulls. You get the idea – things that you touch all the time that you (or someone else in your space) might be leaving flu germs on.
This is the best one. Look after yourself! Eat things that make your body feel good, drink plenty of fluids, get regular exercise – walks on your lunch break, if you’re tight on time – and make sure you get enough sleep. Your body needs rest to keep your immune system ready to fight illness.
MORE PREVENTION RESOURCES
If you’d like to read more about what you can do, the CDC has a lot of great suggestions, including more specifics for preventing the spread in schools and at work.
SPREAD THE WORD
The best prevention comes when everyone does their part. A huge obstacle in flu prevention has been a general lack of awareness about how serious it can be, and how much impact a single person can have by doing what they can to prevent getting sick and passing it on to someone else. Share this site, share resources, speak openly with friends and family about the flu and what they’re planning to do this season to stay healthy.
If you have school-aged children, confirm your school’s policies regarding illness. Stay informed about what’s happening in your child’s school and talk with your kids about washing their hands and covering their mouths when they sneeze and cough.
Print out the fact sheet PDF on the Resources page and ask if your doctor will let you share it in the office. If you’re interested, we’ve linked our flu shot logo in the Resources. Print off stickers for your local flu clinic or doctor’s office to give to people when they’ve had their shot. We’ve ordered ours through Vistaprint, but office supply stores carry round sticker labels, as well.
When you get your flu shot, take a selfie. Post it, share it, tag it back to #forjudeforeveryone and #flushot. Show people in your network that you got your shot and remind them that it’s that time of year again. We’d also love to hear about anyone important to you that you’d like to protect with your shot this year. We’re fighting this battle now because we have lost one of the most important people in our world, and we want to help bring down the numbers of families like ours in the future. Tell us about your loved ones. Tell us why you’re getting the shot this year.