H1N1: Haven’t We Been Here Before?

Well, the last week or two have been crazy with regards to the H1N1 virus.  People have been overloading clinics, people have lined up for hours only to see the clinic turn them away after hours of standing in line and health care workers are busier than they’ve been since – well, ever.  So many individuals are trying to get the vaccine that supply is outstripping demand.  Those not in the high priority groups are getting the shots when (according to one interview I say on a Toronto based news program) health care workers were actually in line trying to get their shot (!).  Seems strange to me.     
 
What’s even worse is that I believe many people seem to already have the flu/virus  – whether they are in a high risk group or not , so is taking the vaccine going to help them down the road?  I’d hope so  they don’t contract it again and if anyone knows the correct answer, please let me know (and other readers too).  The reason I bring this up is that in the office I work, there are already many individuals showing signs of colds and flu symptoms and they aren’t staying home like health and government officials are requesting.   They seem to be behaving the same way they did before they got their present cold/flu.   
 
In today economy people can’t afford to stay home to work.  Some may have the opportunity to work from home so they can continue collecting a paycheck but not everyone has that capability.  Some have to go to the office – or other place of operation – so they can continue to put food on the table and pay the bills.  With this occurring, there are offices full of coughing and hacking people. 
 
This is affecting business operations.  Though some people can continue to work and continue to deliver on their job responsibilities, many can’t.  I’ve seen recently on the news how one individual was in line for nearly 6 hours waiting for a vaccination only to be sent home.  The next day they came back to try again; in fact they said they lined up even earlier the 2nd day.  Well, what happens when this person is working on a major project but not around to do anything on it?  Instead they are in a line for a flu vaccination rather than working on the project, which could be delaying deliverables.  There is no suggestion that this person shouldn’t get the shot (the interview didn’t identify if this was a person who was in a high-priority group) but there is impact on the work they are doing into he office; especially if they have to be in a line for 2 days. 
 
In a past blog post I noted that some people are panicking over H1N1 but there are others who are simply using it as an excuse to skip work.  Some just don’t care and aren’t taking any precautions at all – coming to the office and coughing over their co-workers and not using good hygiene practices.
 
I’ve spoken with other colleagues and they’ve stated the same thing; many of their staff or colleagues are sick (or appear to be) but still come in to work.  Do they have the H1N1 virus?  Do they just have a cold?  Are they getting the seasonal flu?  Since tests aren’t being performed on the majority of individuals, we may never know what they have/had.  But be sure, they are spreading what they have around the office and it’s having impact on many individuals, processes and projects and project deliverables.  How many times have you gone to work only to see a co-worker wandering down the hall who looks like “death warmed over”?  They shouldn’t have come in, as they’ll just make other sick but there’s the false sense that if they come in – illness and all – they’ll be looked at as a hero.  Not so sure about that…
 
But should we be surprised though?  I mean, fall and winter is known to be a major cold and flu season, so is the addition of the H1N1 causing greater business interruption or is it an excuse to delay work on initiatives?  Those that may just have a regular old cold can suddenly use the excuse they don’t’ want to come to the office for fear of spreading something.  (Hhmmm, wish people thought that all the other times they came to the office with the sniffles and passed it around.)  In summer its tough to get some things done because many go on vacation but there’s no worry then – at least nothing that can’t be accommodated. 
 
I suppose those showing signs of H1N1, a cold or flue would need to be diagnosed on a case-by-case basis but still, its hear in the workforce whether anyone wants to admit it or not.  In some cases, the reactions to H1N1 have been around for along time it’s the actual H1N1 symptoms that haven’t.  People still lie about being sick, still stay home when they don’t’ need to and they still will “suddenly catch the flue” one week after a friend or co-worker had.  Let’s face it, one way or another we’ve got the flu – or at least the repercussions of it.  diagnosis but it can’t be any easier than when the cold and flu bug hits the office.  
 
Will the vaccine help us or not?  If the office is already sick – coughing and sneezing – and people are taking advantage of time off (whether to line up for hours or take time off because someone they know is ill and they fear they’ve contracted it) we’ve got H1N1; either from the physical illness or from an infected mind-set.  No vaccine is going to wipe that out.   
 
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