TORONTO — If you’re feeling under the weather as the H1N1 flu is spreading across Canada, you need to stay home and away from the workplace, the president of the Ontario Medication Association is reminding Canadians.
And Dr. Scott Wooder has a message for bosses, too: stop asking for sick notes. Doing so may be forcing your sick employees into doctors’ offices, potentially infecting others and taking up valuable appointment time.
“Employers should encourage workers to stay home when sick – not require sick notes, which has a discouraging effect and forces patients into the doctor’s office when they are sick, which only encourages the spread of germs to those in the waiting room, who in some cases are more vulnerable,” Wooder wrote in a statement.
Cases of H1N1 — and even fatalities from the influenza — have been reported nationwide.
“People such as children, seniors and those living with chronic diseases are more susceptible to the flu and are at a greater risk from its complications,” Wooder said.
The H1N1 flu virus that caused a 2009 pandemic is back – and it’s already in full force across Alberta and Saskatchewan.
Reports of widespread outbreaks, three deaths in Saskatchewan, two in Toronto and 10 in Alberta may cause alarm, but Canadian doctors say that aside from the odd reappearance of H1N1, this year’s flu season is turning out to be a “normal” year.
“If anything, it’s actually a little below what we normally see between Christmas and New Year’s – there are pockets of the country that are seeing a fair amount of flu right now, but even then it’s not hugely out of keeping with what we normally see,” Dr. Michael Gardam, director of infection prevention and control at University Health Network, told Global News.
READ MORE: What to expect from this year’s flu season
“The unusual thing is how dominated it is by H1N1. This year, for whatever reason in North America, H1N1 has come back with a vengeance,” he said.
And the number of flu cases could climb — students are heading back to school and they could spread the virus.
Coughing and sneezing into an elbow, using hand sanitizer or washing hands can help prevent the flu, but the flu shot is the best defence against it, Wooder notes.
Doctors say it’s not too late to roll up your sleeve and get vaccinated.
“Think about those around you, and please don’t take the flu to work.”
TMS debates: When should employees be required to provide a doctor’s note?