Here’s something we’re curious about, readers — how are you dealing with the threat of swine flu? We know it sounds super-pleasant. At the office, are you being encouraged to get a flu shot, and being discouraged from bringing in baked goods? While out networking, are you shaking hands with people, or (like Kathie Lee Gifford) butt-bumping? Personally, what extra steps (if any) are you taking to avoid getting sick?
For our $.02: We’ve never gotten a flu shot, and (as far as we know) have never gotten the flu. (A bad cold two Februarys ago might have qualified, but we didn’t miss a day of work.) Still, we’re trying to be extra-vigilant about the things we normally do to avoid getting sick, such as using hand sanitizer after riding public transportation or shaking hands, taking lots of Emergen-C if we start sneezing, and otherwise getting enough sleep. What are you doing?
I clerk for a trial court judge, and we were all *strongly* encouraged to get a flu shot (which just made everyone sick for a couple of days). My judge has been much more lenient about granting continuances whenever anyone lets us know they’re sick. And, the bailiffs working our metal detector have refused a couple of people entry who were obviously ill.
Our biggest fear is an outbreak in the jail, which is attached to our building. If the inmates start getting sick, it’ll pretty much wipe out our criminal calendar since all of the D.A.’s and public defenders would be out for a while.
My husband is an infectious disease specialist at one of the largest hospitals in a major metropolitan area, and a professor at the associated university, and he says that the swine flu is much worse than expected – potentially will be an epidemic – and worse than regular flu – healthy people in their 20’s/30’s are on respirators in the ICU and dying (normally flu is only deadly to immuno-compromised people, young children and the elderly). There is no more space in the ICU. He highly recommends getting the swine flu vaccine when it becomes available and thinks the talk about it being dangerous is unfounded (and puts those people, and the ones around them, at risk).
ct, thank you so much for this. I’m finding it very upsetting and head-shaking how credulous people are believing the vaccination is “bad for them”. C’mon, people, this is real science. You might not understand how it works, but the scientists do. Yes you might feel a bit off for a couple of days, that’s expected, and part of the process of your body getting ready to fight of a really serious dose of the virus.
You trust the end-results of scientists’ work every day when you drive you car, get aboard an airplane. This is the same thing. There are no conspiracies or plots.
I work for the government and yes, I trust scientists but not the government. Sorry, I see way to much crap firsthand. I don’t want to get the shot. I’ve never gotten the flu–except the one year I got a flu shot. So I’m passing on that.
I’m with you- I don’t get the flu (just a once in a blue moon run down sort of cold situation), so I don’t get a flu shot. I’d rather spend my $30 on clothes or dinner!
That being said, I understand I’m not immune to germs so I’m super-diligent about washing my hands and avoiding germy people (and hello, children!). I live in DC and close enough to walk to work so I try to do that instead of riding Metro where you’re stuck in close quarters with others.
I love a little more on my orange juice and have my Vitamin water Defense which is quite tasty. Also try to have a good mix of foods including plenty of veggies or dishes with lots of vitamin C and all that good stuff.
I have contacted my internist at University of California Medical Center and asked her can I call on the phone and have a prescription for Tamiflu faxed to me if I get the flu while on travel. She said she will do this for me if I request it. It makes me feel more at ease.
I want to echo ct’s advice. I have been taking the flu shot for the last 3 years. I have a fairly healthy lifestyle and consider myself robust – even though I get a cold/throat infection once or twice a year, usually I can manage and recover fairly quickly (say over a weekend).
This year, before I took the flu shot, I came down with violent fever and chills and was very very sick for about 2 weeks. It was the flu and wore me out. My fever went to 102 at one point. If I spoke even briefly I got into coughing fits. I could not sleep because of the coughing fits. I am recovered now but the lingering effects lasted for a few weeks (coughing at night, and so on).
This was just discomfort, but swine flu is so much worse and so much more dangerous. I’d say take the shot, and dont go through what I did.
Getting the flu vaccine is not just about protecting yourself, though it certainly will. As a health care provider, I get it to protect my patients, my child, my elderly family members, etc. The ICUs are full at my hospital as well, and we all can take steps to protect society. Perhaps it’s too socialist of me, but we are vectors that can infect others, the risks of the vaccine are very small (with certain exceptions) and we can protect other more vulnerable populations around us!
I have heard that Vitamin D might help too so I’ve been making sure not to miss my daily vitamin. I’ve also been a lot more careful about touching my face and washing my hands a lot. My teenage son is going to get the H1N1 as soon as it’s available. I will get the shot if I can but right now it looks like my age group will have to wait a while.
Please remember that the seasonal flu shot and the H1N1 flu vaccine are two different things. As a public health professional, I encourage everyone–and particularly those in high-risk groups–to get the shots. Visit the CDC’s website, or the Consumer Reports Health website, to learn if you are in a high-risk group. Also, please don’t buy the hype that taking any form of supplement (and especially not a sugar-sweetened beverage like VitaminWater) will do anything to protect you from either flu. They are viruses. The best line of defense is hand-washing.
I have been getting the flu shots religiously every year, and luckily, my employer pays for everyone at the firm who wants it. I guess they figure it costs them less to pay for the shots rather than have people being sick and not billing.
I don’t know if the shots saved me from any major outbreaks in the years past, but I am definitely getting one this year, and will get the h1n1 flu shot as soon as it becomes available. From everything I have been reading, this fall and winter will be scary.
I’m usually a big fan of the natural prevention measures and skip the shot, but this year I’m preggers and planning on getting at least the swine flu one. If it ever comes out (finally), I think I’ll get it.
I already got both the seasonal swine flu shot and the H1N1 nasal spray. I felt horrible for a day or two but I think it was worth it. One of my friends got swine flu and was quarantined in her room for a week. She said it felt like she was dying, and I’m so busy I really can’t risk getting that sick.
We’ve just come through flu season here in Australia and many people, including those in my office had Swine Flu. It was shocking, affecting the young and old horribly. Many of our staff were off for weeks and were as weak as kittens afterwards. There was no chance of anyone working from home when they had the flu, they were horribly ill.
Quite a few schools closed for the last few days of term and boarding schools sent kids home. Pregnant teachers were discouraged from attending school. Many people were walking around in masks and hand sanitiser became hot property. There were ads on TV and Radio stressing very regular hand washing and no social kissing/handshaking.
I hope that you and your families avoid this horrible experience. Keep well, but if you get the “Swine” stay home and protect your friends and colleagues ( and importantly their children and elderly) from danger.
The swine flu shot is free, if you get it from a government site—and just an administration fee if that elsewhere. Get it, and the seasonal flu shot!
I’m too old to get the the H1N1 shot yet in my area, but as soon as I’m eligible, I will. I’d hate to think I passed the flu to some baby and killed him or her.
Last winter I didn’t get a flu shot, and regretted it when my father was seriously ill and hospitalized. Fortunately,I did not get the flu, but I put him and everyone at that hospital at risk because I was too lazy to get a shot.
People die every year from the flu. Thousands of them. Get a flu shot! Get two!
Tamiflu wil lose its effectiveness if everyone relies on it. Save it for those who really need it. The flu shots are not 100% effective.
I am not in a high risk group and have put off getting the H1N1 shot because I wouldn’t want to take the Rx away from someone at high risk. Has anyone else not in the high risk pool thought about the moral implications?
I’ve been wondering that too; I thought in the past, we were told to let people in high risk groups get flu shots first.
A Different Liz
I get the flu shot every year. I’ve never had negative side effects from it. I’ve also never been ill with the flu. Causation? I don’t know. I haven’t gotten the seasonal flu shot for this year yet, but I intend to trot down to the nurse and do so soon.
As for the H1N1 shot/nasal spray, I’d like to get it, but it doesn’t appear to be available here at this time.
Prevention-wise, I wash my hands a lot.
My firm had a flu shot vaccine clinic, as they do every year, but it isn’t free. They are considering holding a H1N1 vaccine clinic depending on availability and interest.
Personally, I have been washing my hands a lot more often than usual, especially when I arrive in the morning after riding the metro.
I am pregnant and got both the seasonal vaccine (last month) and the H1N1 vaccine (last week). I was lucky to get the latter as my OB’s office doesn’t have it yet and I only got it because my daughter’s pediatrician had extras. I am hoping my husband will be able to get it next month.
My OB doesn’t have them yet either. They were a bit peeved that Walgreens got all the available doses and are making a fortune selling them, but all the doctors’ offices and clinics all got left on the waiting list.
How am I doing with swine flu?
Perfectly fine, as I’ve done absolutely nothing.
The way I see it, the best cure against swine flue is being cognizant of germs and washing your hands…or using those hand sanitizers, the latter which I carry around in my purse all the time. So, getting flu shots have always seemed rather senseless to me. I’ve never gotten a flu shot either, and I very rarely get sick.
I am pregnant and will be getting both the regular and the H1N1 as soon as I hit 14 weeks. This is my first time to get the flu shot but the risks are just too high for pregnant women. Besides that, I work in-house at a large corporation – 1500 employees at our location – and a lot of the people who work here have kids (there have been confirmed outbreaks in my city) and a lot of the guys I highly doubt wash their hands as regularly as they should. *ahem*
I didn’t get the flu shot last year and boy did I pay for it. A week off of work (during trial prep), plus a sinus infection and bronchitis. I won’t make that mistake again this year.
I don’t know about H1N1, my insurance will only pay for it for people in risk groups, and I’m not eligible. I might get it from somewhere else.
Never got the flu shot, never had the flu.
My office has the flu shot available as well. Of the ten people I know who had the flu shot last year, 5 got ill with the flu. Causation? Correlation? Just more high risk overall? Who knows.
I’m likely going to pass on the flu shot again this year. I’m taking my vitamins, and trying to get enough sleep.
Where I live, the H1N1 flu shot hasn’t even begun to be administrated yet, apparently b/c the health officials still don’t know who should get the vaccine first (Geez Louise, at the rate they’re going they won’t need to work out the details, ’cause any one vulnerable enough or unlucky enough will have caught the bug by then…)
Anyways, I fall under several of the risk groups; I have an immune condition, I am a female and I’m under 30. Sooo, I have to take some extra precautions before I get this vaccine. I carry one of those little bottles of Purell hand sanitizer and a small package of tissues so I don’t have to cough or sneeze in my sleeve. I don’t have any issue with shaking hands with clients (though I should mention our firm has a new policy that clients experiencing cold or flu-like symptoms should not come to our office if possible); however, if I’m opening a door or holding on to a handrail I usually try to use my sleeve to do it. I wash my hands frequently, and once in a while I spray my own office with Lysol just to be on the safe side. If I’m sick, I don’t show up to work, even if it means I have to pull all-nighters afterward to make up for it.
It may seem a bit extreme to some; but if you have an immune disorder like myself, and something as simple as a cold can put you out of commission for over a month, you don’t take chances.
I get the flu every season, manage to sneak in a few colds too. The one time I got vaccinated, THAT in itself gave me the flu. Sucks to be me. I’m taking some plant-extract drops that supposedly help your immune system but that’s about it. I’m sure I’ll live.
The real problem with flu is never the flu itself, it’s the potential for complications after it. And the chance for those can be reduced by actually staying in bed for the main hit of the flu (you can get groceries delivered these days), not playing hero and paying attention to your needs, dressing smartly after (my experience is after a flu I sweat like a pig for another few weeks, and colds lurk) as well as keeping in mind your immune system will be weaker for a bit after the flu. You don’t want to double-whammy it with a head cold or a lung infection after or anything like that.
The flu shot will not cause you to get the flu. The reason you might still get it, even if you get a flu shot, is that the shot only protects against one particular strain of the flu virus—the one that public health officials predict in advance will be the most prevalent. Obviously these predictions aren’t perfect, so though you will be protected from that strain you might still get another one.
That isn’t exactly true. The flu shot is a small dose of the flu–although as I understand it (and health professionals please chime in here) is that the strain may be a dead virus. But some people do come down with the flu afterward. However, I believe after their illness they are immune from that particular strain.
My general point was to refute the misconception that the flu shot can cause you to come down with the flu, which is not true: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/qa/misconceptions.htm. I didn’t mean to imply that the vaccine is 100% effective in every person against the strains in the vaccine–it isn’t. But generally the flu vaccine is highly effective unless you are very young or very old, and even in those cases it can still prevent serious complications.
I get a flu shot every couple of years. I had the flu once, and once was enough. Those of you that have had severe colds that feel ‘flu-ish’–count yourself lucky. Getting the influenza virus is just awful, and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. I probably need to get one now since I have asthma, which makes me a higher risk.
A company called Boiron makes a fantastic homeopathic medicine called Oscillocosynum (sic?). I highly recommend it. It’s all natural, and if you’re really sick it will not mask serious symptoms. But, I swear, if you take it when you first start to feel that “i might be coming down with something tingle” in your throat (this is key), you’ll either avoid getting sick, or at least recover much quicker (2-3 days tops).
I don’t know how it works, but it has worked for me for years now. A small point: I have somewhat altered the directions for max effectiveness: double dose as soon as I think I am getting sick, and regular dosage thereafter [the pack is 6 altogether]. I supplement this with lots of emergency C and tea with honey. It’s been working!
This year, I am going to start to carry a dose or two in my purse, too, so that if I do start to get that sick feeling, I don’t have to look for a health food store & can just take the pills straight away.
I get the flu shot every year. My son gets a flu shot. I am trying to be more vigilant with hand washing etc.
I want to echo what the wife of the Dr. said above. My sister is a nurse at the Childrens Hospital where I live and the flu has been terrible. She actually got the swine flu and was terribly sick for a week. She got the flu before the vaccination came out. She is insistent that we all get the vaccination.
I’m a healthcare professional and went to a flu seminar back when Avian Flu was a threat. I imagine the advice we got there would serve us well with Swine Flu as well. It’s common sense:
1. Wash your hands frequently. Antibacterial gel should really only be used if soap and water aren’t available.
2. Avoid touching your nose, mouth, and face with your hands.
3. Stay home from work if you’re sick.
4. Wipe down your office with antibacterial solution at least once every week or when someone else touches your stuff.
5. Keep tabs on people you work or socialize with and be conscious of contact with them if they’re ill.
6. Of course, get the flu and H1N1 vaccine (when available).
I don’t believe in the swine flu. Even after I read all the warnings. I’m not getting a shot or taking any other precautions.
Wow! My mistake re Tamiflu. That’s for traditioanl flu. For swine flue, zanamivir or Tamiflu plus rimantadine, the latter combo when they don’t know which flu it is. See CDC Interim Recommendations on line (for physicians). I wish I knew as much about medicine as about law and clothing!
I am pregnant (in my third trimester), so I am especially vigilant about avoiding the flu / H1N1 this season. I have already received both the seasonal and H1N1 vaccinations and do everything I can to keep my office germ free. I constantly wash my hands, use hand sanitizer, and quite frankly avoid close contact with anyone these days.
I’m in house counsel for a corporation and we’ve already had several employees and/or their children diagnosed with H1N1. The company I work for provides Clorox wipes and hand sanitizer in all common areas, allows employees who are sick or who have sick family members to work from home, and will offer free flu shots to employees and their immediate family members (although not be available until mid-November due to a vaccincation shortage).
I just got back from the free H1N1 vaccine clinic at my local health department. My two sisters and I got there two hours early with our six young children (and one newborn baby, who stayed a safe distance away). There were 2,000 doses available, and we were among the first 20 or so people in line. By the time they started the clinic, the line went around the block – way more than 2000 people. I wonder how it is that some places get plenty of the vaccine, while other areas don’t get enough or at all. Anybody know how this works? It seems insane!
Anyway, according to the guidelines our health department set out, our children were eligible to get it, and we grown ups could because we care for the newborn and one of my sisters is pregnant. Because of my close contact with people at high risk, I wouldn’t dream of not getting the vaccine. I am going to rest much easier knowing my family is protected.
Incidentally, this summer my 1-year-old picked up pertussis (whooping cough) – she was up to date on her vaccinations, but had not yet received the last shot in the series. Whooping cough is highly contagious, and she passed it on to the rest of the family (aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents – in addition to parents and siblings). Did you konw that the whooping cough vaccine wears off, but you can get a booster? Fortunately, everybody was fine, but if my daughter was a bit younger, this could have been a potentially fatal illness for her. Take advantage of the miracle of modern medicine!
All really good comments. As a business etiquette consultant I can offer advice on how to avoid shaking hands if you are afraid of germs or know you can’t wash your hand right away. It is acceptable in this epidemic environment to raise your right hand and enthusiastically say “Hello Jane, great to see you.” then put it down, rather than shaking Jane’s hand.
To protect myself, I do get a flu shot every year and have never gotten the flu since getting them. After reading what everyone wrote I think I will get the H1N1 vaccine. As a business owner I can’t afford to be out of commission.
Another thing you can do to support your immune system is to take Vitamin D. Many people are deficient in it especially those who live in the northern hemispheres where sun is in short supply in the winter. That has made a huge difference for me and my husband who used to get sick all the time.
Good health to you all.
Thank you Arden! I was just wondering that when I read the note above about avoiding hand shaking. It’s an awkward situation but I’ll give that a try.
I posted below that when I’m expected to shake hands, I fib and say that *I* have a little cold and I don’t want to get the other person sick. Works like a charm.
Folks, for heaven’s sake get the shot. I got a case of the flu (real flu, not just a bad cold) when I was 23 and I still remember… *coughcough* years later… just how horrible it was. Repeating the mantra “I haven’t had it before” is not going to save you if you do get infected, and this is looking to be a bad one.
Seriously, in this economy do you REALLY want to be suddenly missing 10-14 days of work – even with the doctor’s note?
As far as trying to avoid it? Well, in my case I have three kids, so I basically don’t have a chance :)
I’ve never had a flu shot and I’ve never had the flu, but I’d probably get it if I were in a risk group (pregnant, immune disorder, elderly, etc). Same goes for the H1N1 vaccine, which isn’t even available for the general population yet in my city. I’m always vigilant about handwashing (20+ seconds of scrubbing with soap and rinse with hot water), and I carry hand sanitizer and use it each time I get off public transportation, push elevator buttons or use a pen in a public place like a doctor’s office or bank. I’m also vigilant about never touching my face unless I’ve washed my hands since the last time I touched anything that’s not personally mine – flu is transmitted by respiratory droplets that one person exhales and another inhales, so even if you get flu virus on your hands after touching a surface that a flu sufferor touched, if you don’t touch your mouth/nose you won’t get the flu. I also wash my hands first thing when I get to my office or get to my apartment.
And frankly, everyone should have the handwashing habits I described even when it’s not flu season.
I also use nasal irrigation (i.e. a Neti pot) at least once every two days and I gargle with salt water, which helps with congestion and supposedly can flush out bacteria or viruses lurking in your nose or throat before they begin to make you sick.
Oh, and if I am in a situation where I’m expected to shake hands but it strikes me that the person maybe is not healthy or totally hygenic, I fib and say that *I* have a cold and I’m sorry but I’m sure he’d prefer I don’t shake his hand.