Home » Managing Illnesses » The Cost of Influenza Is Nothing to Sneeze At

Ian Culbert

Executive Director, Canadian Public Health Association

All too often, we hear statements like “I’ve got a touch of the ‘flu’, but I’m still going to work.” But this outlook ends up costing a lot in both financial terms and in human life.

A 2017 study showed that each case of influenza that resulted in hospitalization ended up costing the health care system between $14,000 and $20,000. With an estimated 12,000 influenza hospitalizations each year, the cost to the Canadian economy is between $168 and $240 million.

So let’s focus more energy on prevention. Here are the simple steps you need to follow:

1. Get the flu shot. It’s safe, it’s effective, and it’s your best defence.

2. Stay at home when you’re sick. The influenza virus is airborne and spreads easily in group settings.

3. Wash your hands often, with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; if soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

4. Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze.Use a tissue then put it in the trash. If you don’t have a tissue, cough into your elbow.

5. Don’t touch your face. Flu spreads when people cough, sneeze, or talk — producing droplets. These droplets can enter your body through contact with your eyes, nose, or mouth.

6. Clean (disinfect) surfaces and shared items.The influenza virus can live for up to 48 hours on hard surfaces like countertops, door handles, computer keyboards, and phones.

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