Amid COVID-19 Fears, Influenza is Still The Biggest Killer

Source: Manuel Faba Ortega - 123RF

“Have you had your flu shot?” is probably the most common question asked by health providers.

According to Healthline, around 5 to 20 percent of Americans get the illness every year. As a result, U.S. employees miss about 17 million workdays each flu season at an estimated cost of $7 billion a year in sick days and lost labor time.

Livescience reports that during a typical flu season, up to 500,000 people worldwide will die from the illness, according to WHO. But occasionally, when a new flu strain emerges, a pandemic results with a faster spread of disease and, often, higher mortality rates.

The most deadly flu pandemic, sometimes called the Spanish flu, began in 1918 and sickened up to 40% of the world’s population, killing an estimated 50 million people.

There’s no guarantee that you’ll have complete protection from the flu virus in the workplace.

While scientists the world over are racing to find out more about the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), most indications are that influenza (the flu) continues to be a far greater threat.

Here are a few facts:

  • Globally, between October 2019 and March 2020, 1 Billion cases of influenza have been reported (35 million alone in the US), compared to 87,000 coronavirus cases for the same period;
  • COVID-19 has killed almost 4,000 people, compared to 291,000 – 646,000 cases of influenza; and
  • Flu symptoms range from fever, chills, and cough, to vomiting and diarrhea. Common symptoms of coronavirus are fever, cough, and shortness of breath.

The biggest difference between the two is that COVID-19 may be able to be transmitted through cold air, even after the ill person is no longer nearby.

The flu, on the other hand, typically requires closer contact through a sneeze, a cough, or closer talking.

Workers laid low by influenza has a bigger impact on the workplace than coronavirus, and it boils down to one simple issue:

Practice good hygiene!

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick;
  • Stay home when you are sick;
  • If you are sick, call your medical provider before seeking medical care;
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue;
  • Routinely clean/disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects.

A flu vaccine is available and effective to prevent some of the most dangerous types or to reduce the severity of the flu, so GET YOUR FLU SHOT.

According to Health, the COVID-19 situation is changing rapidly. Since this disease is caused by a new virus, people do not have immunity to it, and a vaccine may be many months away.

If people get their flu shots, fewer people come down with the flu and come into clinics with nonspecific symptoms such as fever and cough, which overlap with COVID-19.