Your work is piling and the deadline looms dangerously close. And then it happens – your colleague, Mariam starts sniffling and coughing, Raju follows suit, and the next thing you know, you too are down with a horrible flu.
A flu attack is awful enough, with fever, sore throat, cough, body aches and tiredness being common symptoms. It can also affect our work performance. Too many sick leaves can increase our stress level as work piles up, and it may also be counted against us during the annual performance review – not a good thing if we are eyeing that promotion or pay raise!
“Flu is not the same as a common cold,” says Dr Hazlee. “Flu – which is short for "influenza" – is more than just a bad cold; it can lead to serious complications, including death.” The fact that it is an acute viral infection which can spread easily from person to person only makes things worse.
The flu bug has become a yearly “visitor” to our workplaces, but there is one simple way to protect ourselves from it – getting a flu shot.
A shot a year keeps the flu bug away
You may be thinking, “Wait, I need a shot every year?”
According to Dr Hazlee, right now a flu shot is effective only for a year because the flu virus can change its form (or mutate) over time. As a result, the flu virus that attacks during one particular period (or season) may not be the same one which came the previous season, or the one that would come the next season.
“Each year, the flu vaccine is the result of a well-orchestrated worldwide effort to predict which virus strains would be prevalent, and which strains should be included in the flu shot,” explains Dr Hazlee.
He adds that, currently, some researchers at the University of Melbourne, Australia and the Fudan University in Shanghai, China are collaborating on the possibility of developing a single flu vaccine that can provide lifelong protection.
Until that research bears fruit, let’s get a flu shot every year, preferably well ahead of a flu season.
So, ask your doctor about the tetravalent flu vaccine.
Other tips to stay ahead at work:
- Work smart. Too many things to do and too little time to do them all? Prioritize and make lists. Plan your time carefully so that you finish what you can without having to spend so many late nights in the office.
- Watch what you snack. If you grab a bite often to keep yourself alert at work, choose healthy snacks such as fresh fruits and plain crackers over sugary snacks.
- Get enough sleep. Try to get at least 8 hours of sleep a day, so that you will come to work with a clear head and full of energy.
 US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Flu symptoms & severity. Retrieved on 28 May, 2015 from http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/disease/symptoms.htm
 US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Key facts about seasonal flu vaccine. Retrieved on 28 May, 2015 from http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/keyfacts.htm
 AAP. (2015, May 14). Australian researchers help target single flu shot for life. The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved on 28 May, 2015 from http://www.smh.com.au/national/health/australian-researchers-help-target-single-flu-shot-for-life-20150513-gh17l4.html
 Wang, Z. et al. (2015). Recovery from severe H7N9 disease is associated with diverse response mechanisms dominated by CD8+ T cells. Nat. Commun. 6:6833 doi: 10.1038/ncomms7833.