Don’t laugh but there is a socially proper way to have the flu.
And Anna Post, great-great-granddaughter of the doyen of proper etiquette, Emily Post, has put together the flu etiquette ground rules.
As reported last week, the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases says flu cases usually peak in January and February. With only half of Americans vaccinated against the flu, there is a good chance many will get this disease.
The flu is passed off as a common cold, but up to 40,000 Americans die annually because of this virus, says Dr. Susan Rehm, medical director of the foundation. In addition, hundreds of thousands are hospitalized with pneumonia or other problems stemming from the untreated flu bug, she says.
“Don’t be ‘That Guy’ who spreads the flu to family, friends or colleagues,” says Anna Post. “By following appropriate flu etiquette, we can all play a role in preventing the spread of flu virus.”
Too many people “go about their daily business instead of taking care of themselves — which also takes care of others,” Post says.
“This is very inconsiderate but we see it a lot — especially in this economy. People are not putting their own health first, and they don’t care about anyone else.”
Here is Post’s basic message:
n In the workplace: If you have flu symptoms at work, let your boss know right away that you need to get to the doctor. Just let him or her know, “I don’t feel well — I think I might have the flu.” Better to have others pitch in at the office than risk others on our team becoming sick.
n In social situations: Normally it would be rude to cancel on a dinner party or a big event at the last minute, but if you’re sick, call with your regrets and instead, go see a doctor.
n Air travel: It’s tough to point out someone’s behavior mid-flight with hours left to go. However, flu is highly contagious. If there’s no other seat available, consider saying, “I can see you’re not feeling well — would you mind covering your mouth when you cough? Thanks.” Most people when prompted are eager to show good manners and do the right thing.
Post’s complete flu etiquette tips are available on at flufacts.com, where you can test your flu knowledge and take quizzes. The site is kid friendly to reach a larger audience, Post says.
“No one likes to be the ‘Etiquette Police,’” Post says. “But someone has to fill that role.”
When she travels on airplanes, Post personally takes extra tissues and alcohol-based hand sanitizer. If she sits next to “that guy,” she asks the person to use the items.
“Yes, your tone of voice is important when you are asking people to use tissues instead of a skirt hem.”
Why have flu etiquette tips?
Post claims “I get asked about the flu all the time for both business and social situations. Her flu etiquette campaign is sponsored by Genentech, a member of the Roche Group.
Post, who says six family members currently are associated with the Emily Post Institute, is part of the “Are You That Guy?” influenza education campaign.
In addition to establishing flu etiquette standards, the campaign urges Americans with flu symptoms to see a doctor. Symptoms include fever, achy muscles, severe chills and unusually severe fatigue.