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How to Avoid Getting the Flu at Work

Your co-workers are a biohazard. How to avoid getting the flu
Sneeze droplets can travel six feet. Instead of saying “Bless you,” duck!
Sneeze droplets can travel six feet. Instead of saying “Bless you,” duck!Illustration by Andres Guzman

The guy who sits next to me at work caught the flu. Last week he showed up looking like he was auditioning for a NyQuil commercial. A few days later, he Instagrammed a photo of an oral thermometer reading 102F. Another woman a couple desks down is at home with the whooping cough.

Not that any of this is surprising. The U.S. is having its worst flu outbreak since the 2009 swine flu pandemic. Almost every state is reporting “widespread” flu levels, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Both Boston and New York State have declared official public health emergencies. And only a third of Americans have gotten flu shots. The other two-thirds are probably coughing on you right now in the elevator or—if you take public transit to work—gripping the subway pole you just grabbed with their germy hands.