Health Team

Poll: Most work when sick, but hate when co-workers do the same

Posted January 31, 2011

Flu season is well underway, and one reason the illness spreads so fast is sick co-workers and friends.

A new survey finds a majority of Americans admit they still go about their daily activities, even though they're feeling flu symptoms and know they can be spreading germs.

“I go to work no matter what. As a business owner, it's something you have to do,” said Walter Baker.

It’s a sentiment most Americans share. A new national poll finds 66 percent of people still go about their daily activities when they’re feeling flu symptoms.

“The fact that they would knowingly go out while they're ill I think is a bit concerning,” said Dr. Susan Rehm with the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases.

Doctors say there’s a big difference between going to work with a cold and going to the office with the flu, which kills thousands every year.

“Influenza is a sudden onset of a severe illness where you have fever, you have aching, you have chills,” said Dr. Steven Lamm, an internist at NYU Medical Center.

Part of the problem might be that people don’t realize how far the flu virus travels. Most Americans don’t know that if someone who’s sick coughs or sneezes, the virus can travel 6 feet away.

Many say even though they do into work when they are sick, they don’t like it when others do it. The poll also found that a third of Americans think they can get the flu from the vaccine, but experts say that’s a myth and that the best way to prevent getting sick is to get the flu shot.

Those who think they are experiencing symptoms of the flu should contact their healthcare provider within the first 48 hours, because they might benefit from antiviral medications that may reduce the severity of the illness.


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  • wxfreak Feb 3, 2011

    Don't forget you are contagious before you have symptoms of the cold/ are spreading it before you even know you are sick..

  • PookieYam Feb 2, 2011

    You can still get sick even though you get the flu shot. It has taken down a lot of folks in my office, and they all had the flu shot.

  • rixida Feb 2, 2011

    If Dr. Steven Lamm would pay my bills for me, I would be glad to stay home when sick.

  • lizlizardrn Feb 1, 2011

    I had a coworker that told me not to worry that I would be alone when he was sick cause he came to work no matter how sick he was!!! Yeah, that was real comforting.

  • gregdboz Feb 1, 2011

    pseud,, it really is all about you,, is it not,, hope you do not get a paper cut,,btw,, at my job. it killed 3 people

  • Pseudonym Feb 1, 2011

    If you take time off for "the sniffles" then you are a sissy, plain and simple.

  • slayerhil Feb 1, 2011

    It would be nice if sick folks stayed home, but that isn't always possible or even realistic. All you can do is protect yourself when out in public and always be aware of what you're touching and handling. Chances are, that door handle or gas pump may have a stray flu virus camping out on it. It's probably a good idea to keep a small bottle of hand sanitizer on or near you at all times.

  • OGE Feb 1, 2011

    At my work I only have Personal Time Off...there is no separation between it being sick time or arm has got to be falling off or my kids sick for me to take PTO for illness.

  • RMC10 Feb 1, 2011

    Our family ate at Sweet Tomatoes on Sat. night - we were in the "soup" line when another patron in the soup line coughed into his hand then immediately ladled up his soup - at least he could have coughed into his inner elbow and not have contaminated the clam chowder ladle - how very ignorant are people.

  • Reader X Feb 1, 2011

    I rarely get sick and I've never had the flu- I must also admit because of this I never bother to get the flu shot either. However I also admit that I will come to work sick for the simple reason if I don't work, I don't get paid. I have no sick time and no vacation days. The glories of being a contract employee. Still trying to find regular employment with benefits.