Many of us are heading back to the office after the COVID-19 pandemic had us working from home. You may find yourself surrounded by coughing, sniffling and sneezing co-workers. And close working quarters along with shared kitchens, bathrooms and conference rooms can hasten the spread of the flu and other nasty germs.
Thankfully, protecting yourself in and out of the office doesn’t have to be complicated.
You know the drill: Get vaccinated!
First and foremost, get your flu and COVID-19 vaccines.
The CDC recommends getting vaccinated by the end of October before the flu begins affecting your community. But the flu shot can be effective throughout flu season, which typically runs from October to as late as May. As long as the flu is still going around, it’s useful to get vaccinated.
You can get immunized at your physician's office, a local clinic or a nearby pharmacy. Check out the vaccine locator to find a convenient spot near your home of office at vaccines.gov.
Keep your distance
Droplets containing the flu and COVID viruses can spread up to 6 feet through the air, according to the CDC.
If a number of your colleagues are under the weather, propose conducting conferences by phone or online in lieu of cramming into airless boardrooms.
Give your hands a good wash
Regularly washing your hands with soap and water or disinfecting with an alcohol-based sanitizer can help keep you flu-free. But a quick rinse under warm water won't do the trick—you should scrub for a minimum of 20 seconds, on the backs of hands, palms, fingers and under the nails.
If soap and water aren’t available, use a hand disinfectant with at least 60% alcohol until you can find an opportunity to give your hands a proper wash. To properly sanitize your hands, rub the product on all parts of your hands until dry; don't wipe the solution off.
Identify and disinfect germ hotspots at work
Viruses can live on surfaces for up to 48 hours, so disinfecting heavily-trafficked areas can help prevent the spread of bugs.
Disinfect common surfaces like doorknobs, the kitchenette or coffee area where people congregate, as well as shared phones and bathrooms. Wipe down desks, keyboards and the arms of computer chairs, too, even if they don't look dirty. Be sure any electronics can withstand the moisture before cleaning.
Adopt healthy habits at home
Eating a nutritious diet, being physically active, managing stress and getting adequate sleep can help maintain overall health, and they may also boost your immunity.
Even with these risk-reducing precautions, catching the flu or COVID-19 is always a possibility.
If you do come down with the flu or COVID-19 virus, do your best to avoid contact with others and remain home. If you're at high risk for complications—a group that includes people with asthma, diabetes and heart disease, pregnant women and young children—contact your physician immediately.
When an unexpected, severe injury or illness occurs, you need high-quality care fast. With 11 emergency rooms (ERs) in our network, HCA Midwest Health is here for you when an emergency situation arises. Our hospital and freestanding ERs provide 24/7 emergency care to patients of all ages with locations throughout Kansas City and its surrounding communities. Learn more at our emergency care page.