Truth In Medicine Poll: One Third of Those With Flu Still Report to Work

Posted: Jan. 5, 2017

A third of workers who have the flu still report to work even though they are aware that the sometimes deadly disease is spread person to person, according to the results of a new public health survey of New York metro area residents.

Men 50 years of age and older were more likely to report to work with the flu, the survey found, with 37 percent of men reporting that they had gone in to work despite having a flu diagnosis. By contrast, 28 percent of women 50 years of age or older reported that they went to work with the flu.

The overwhelming majority of those responding in the poll – some 93 percent – said they are aware that the flu is spread person to person.  And 66 percent said they knew that the flu can be fatal. Yet, only 57 percent of those surveyed said they had gotten the flu shot. Some 33 percent of all respondents reported that they had gone to work with flu at least once.

The newly commissioned South Nassau Truth in Medicine Poll was conducted via both landlines and cell phones in December with 600 adults in New York City and on Long Island. The poll was conducted as part of the hospital’s mission of improving education around critical public health issues.

“The South Nassau ‘Truth in Medicine’ poll is meant to shine a light on public health issues that deserve more attention,” said Richard J. Murphy, South Nassau’s President & CEO. “The more information the public has about issues like the flu, the better prepared they will be to protect themselves and members of their families.”

“Our ultimate goal is educate the public about health issues so they can take better care of themselves and seek out appropriate medical care when needed,” said Dr. Adhi Sharma, South Nassau’s Chief Medical Officer. “The flu is an example of a disease that annually causes tens of thousands of hospital and Emergency Department visits that often could be avoided if people took some simple preventative steps like getting the flu shot, washing their hands frequently and staying at home if they have the flu,” Sharma said.

“You should not be going to work if you are sick for two reasons:  rest is important to recovery and, by going into work, you greatly increase the chances of spreading the flu,” Sharma added. “For your health and the well-being of your co-workers, stay home if you have the flu!”

Those with the flu may be able to infect others beginning one day before symptoms develop and between five and seven days after becoming sick, said Dr. Aaron Glatt, South Nassau’s Department of Medicine Chair and Hospital Epidemiologist who also is a spokesman for the Infectious Disease Society of America. Some people, especially young children and those with weakened immune systems, might be able to infect others for an even longer time, Dr. Glatt added.
The New York State Health Department last week declared the flu to be widespread in New York State with confirmed cases in 39 counties and all boroughs of New York City. So far this season, 658 flu-related hospitalizations have been reported in New York, according to the health department.

The South Nassau Truth in Medicine Poll was conducted by a nationally recognized, independent polling firm, LJR Custom Strategies, which has offices in Washington, DC and New Orleans, LA. LJR has conducted more than 2,000 studies for a broad spectrum of health care, business, education, cultural, and political clients in almost every state in the country and around the world.

Most of those responding to the Truth in Medicine survey – some 66 percent – agreed that people should get a flu shot every year while 16 percent said they didn’t think a flu shot was necessary. Only 57 percent of those responding, however, said they themselves had received a flu shot.

Among older residents age 50-64, some 76 percent believed an annual flu shot was a good idea, and among residents age 65 and over, 73percent said the same, indicating that the message of inoculating against the flu among older residents is resonating, the survey found.

The poll indicated that concern remains about the risks of the flu shot. Forty-two percent said they believed you can get the flu from the flu shot while an equal number of respondents – 42 percent - did not believe you could get the flu from the shot. Some 58 percent of residents surveyed, meanwhile, are aware it is possible to get the flu more than once a year.

“While you can get the flu, even if you receive the flu vaccine, it is still a very good idea to get the flu shot,” said Dr. Glatt. “The flu shot –while not effective in all cases - is the best preventative measure we have.” It is not too late in the season to get the flu shot, said Dr. Glatt.

For more information about the Flu, including our five-part series presented by Dr. Aaron Glatt, visit The Truth About Flu.

Designated a Magnet® hospital by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), South Nassau® Communities Hospital is one of the region’s largest hospitals, with 455 beds, more than 900 physicians and 3,500 employees.  The hospital is an acute-care, not-for-profit teaching hospital that provides state-of-the-art care in cardiac, oncologic, orthopedic, bariatric, pain management, mental health and emergency services.  South Nassau operates the only Trauma Center on the South Shore of Nassau County as well as Long Island’s only free-standing, 9-1-1 receiving Emergency Department in Long Beach.

In addition to its extensive outpatient specialty centers, South Nassau provides emergency and elective angioplasty, and is the only hospital on Long Island with the Novalis Tx™ and Gamma Knife® radiosurgery technologies.  South Nassau is a designated Stroke Center by the New York State Department of Health and Comprehensive Community Cancer Center by the American College of Surgeons and is an accredited center of the Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Association and Quality Improvement Program.  

The hospital has been awarded the Joint Commission’s gold seal of approval as a Top Performer on Key Quality Measures, including heart attack, heart failure, pneumonia and surgical care; and disease-specific care for hip and joint replacement, wound care and end-stage renal disease. For more information, visit www.southnassau.org.