Will you follow that advice this flu season? And will you do so as soon as swine flu symptoms emerge, or only when you feel truly wretched?
If you're a parent, will you keep your kids home from school or day care when they get sick? Or only if their school or day care center temporarily closes?
How will you deal with sick co-workers who show up and cough all over the place, exposing you to their germs? And will job fears and the rocky economy nudge you to work despite being sick?
"That is a complicated issue that is even more complicated in these economic times," says Roslyn Stone, MPH, chief operating officer of Corporate Wellness Inc. in Mount Kisco, N.Y. "We're all concerned about that."
"We know that this is difficult," says Koonin. But she points out that this H1N1 virus is new, spreads fairly easily from person to person, and has led to some deaths and hospitalizations, though most cases haven't been severe.
No doubt about it -- staying home would be best for everyone. But some professionals in human resources, business, and child care tell WebMD they fear that advice is unrealistic for many people -- which could hamper swine flu prevention in the long run.
Afraid to Stay Home From Work
Stone, who chairs the workplace working group for the National Influenza Vaccine Summit, a joint project of the CDC and the American Medical Association, supports the recommendation to stay home when sick and not go back to work until you're better.
But she knows it's a tough sell in this economy.
"People have more job responsibilities. One employee may be doing the work of two. There's no one else to fill in for them when they do call in sick, or there are fewer people -- they're stretched thinner. They don't have accrued sick time. They're afraid to be out of the office. They're worried that their job isn't going to be there when they come back," Stone says.
Philip Deming, principal of Philip S. Deming and Associates, a human resources and security risk management firm in King of Prussia, Pa., says he's heard anecdotes of workers who are afraid to stay home when sick.
"If they have any inkling that their employer may be shutting down or doing a RIF [reduction in force], they're not going to chance taking the time off, especially if they don't have vacation time or sick time or [paid time off]," says Deming, who chaired a group that wrote pandemic flu guidelines for the Society for Human Resource Management.