According to the acting director the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, there is increased flu activity this year, and it has come early. As of November 30, 48 states and Puerto Rico were reporting cases of influenza that had been confirmed by lab results. "Influenza-like-illness," or ILI, levels in some parts of the U.S. are already higher this year that all of last season.
In many workplaces, especially administrative or office locations, there are many people around all of the time. It is important to remain concerned about the flu or ILI in the workplace. If sick, remain at home so as not to risk co-workers being exposed to the illness. Sick time and workers' compensation may be options, especially if it is a strong strain of the flu.
Typically when we think about workplace illness, we think about serious occupational diseases that result from a workplace, like carpal tunnel syndrome, chemical exposures, and respiratory issues. Diseases and conditions like these are often covered under Social Security Disability benefits. For more typical illnesses like the flu, there are other options to cover the sick time.
Many workplaces offer flu shot clinics, but there are many options available to receive this year's vaccination. There are also basic habits to keep in place to reduce the risk of infection, including proper hand-washing -- especially important for medical professionals, but also in offices where there are many communal areas. People who become sick as a result of their workplace may be eligible to pursue workers' compensation claims.
Source: HR and Employment Law News, "CDC: Early flu season is wake-up call for vaccination," Dec. 5, 2012