Survey: At least one-quarter of American workers go to work sick

Roughly 37 percent of Americans say they cannot afford to miss work when sick, so they go to work and risk exposing coworkers.
By Amy Wallace  |  Updated Oct. 26, 2017 at 4:03 PM
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Oct. 26 (UPI) -- American workers are not doing their part to combat the spread of influenza, according to a new survey by NSF International.

The survey suggests that, while nearly everybody judges coworkers who come in when they are sick and more than half of people would tell a sick coworker to go home, at least a quarter of people still turn up at the office while under the weather.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates nearly stagnant flu vaccination for the 2016-2017 flu season, aside from small increases in individuals age 50 and older.

The Department of Health and Human Services announced a focus this flu season on increasing the number of people receiving the vaccine, with former HHS Secretary Dr. Tom Price encouraging anybody six months or older to get their shot, specifying several higher risk groups especially need to be vaccinated.

"Vaccines are only as useful as when we take advantage of them," Price said at the press conference in September.

However, the new survey by NSF showed vaccination rates do not have an affect on the number of American workers who go to work sick.

The survey found 26 percent of Americans admit going to work while sick mainly due to workload, deadlines and loss of income.

Nearly 42 percent of participants said they were afraid they would have too much work to make up if they were sick and 37 percent reported that they could not afford to take a sick day and miss work. The study also found that 98 percent of those surveyed admitted they judge co-workers who come to work sick, although just 16 percent said they viewed their co-workers who come in sick negatively.

Men were twice as likely to come to work sick compared to women, 33 percent and 17 percent respectively.

A previous survey by NSF in 2014 showed that one-quarter of workers who went to work sick said their boss required them to do so, 37 percent said they needed money and 42 percent blamed the workload.

Healthcare providers recommend getting the flu vaccine each year to protect against the virus, along with proper hand washing practices and avoiding going to work to reduce the chance of spreading illness.

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