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    Cold, Flu, & Cough Health Center

    Colds and Flu at Work

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    Each year, between 5% and 20% of Americans get the flu and miss a staggering 70 million work days as a result. The indirect costs? Between $3 billion to $12 billion a year.

    Both the flu shot and the nasal flu vaccine work really well to keep you from getting ill. But they aren’t 100% effective. You can still get sick even if you get vaccinated, although it's usually less severe and goes away more quickly.

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    Try these five tips to lower your risk of sharing cold and flu viruses at work.

    1. Call in sick when you need to. Viruses are easy to spread in close quarters like offices. Stay home if you have any of these symptoms:

    2. Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough . Viruses are mostly spread through mucus. Cover your mouth with the inside of your elbow so you don’t cough or sneeze into your hand.

    3. Wash your hands often with soap and warm water. Rub them together for 15 to 20 seconds. If you can’t get to soap and water, use alcohol-based disposable hand wipes or gels.

    4. Don't touch your eyes , nose, or mouth . Germs are easy to pick up when you touch something with germs and then touch those parts of your face.

    5. Wipe down your desk and other common areas. Telephones, desks, water fountain handles, microwave door handles, and computer keyboards in offices contain large amounts of germs.

    For More Information:

    The WebMD Cold & Flu Survivor's Guide

    WebMD Medical Reference

    Reviewed by Jennifer Robinson, MD on January 20, 2015

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