ROSWELL, Ga. -- One in three people in a new survey said they were not worried about the recent news that there will be a vaccine shortage for the upcoming flu season.
While 25 percent did express concern about the shortage, the number who described themselves as very worried was relatively small (9 percent). Only one percent reported being more concerned about another newsworthy health topic: contracting avian flu.
In fact, in a display of altruism, one quarter of respondents said they would refrain from getting a flu shot so that more vaccine would be available for those who really needed it, such as people with chronic illnesses, adults 65 and older, and very young children.
The survey, conducted by Opinion Research Corporation for Kimberly-Clark Professional, questioned 1,029 adults nationwide about cold and flu concerns and prevention strategies. Employed respondents (588 people) were also asked about the delicate business of coping with germs in the workplace.
Altruistic concerns were also evident in answers to other questions. For instance:
· 96 percent of respondents said they would cover their nose or mouth or clean their hands after sneezing or coughing to prevent the spread of cold and flu germs.
· 62 percent of employed respondents said they took these actions at work to avoid spreading germs to colleagues, while close to a third of this group said they tried to stay away from co-workers as much as possible when they were sick.
More than half of all respondents were also aware of Moms and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)s advice that handwashing is the best way to prevent the spread of germs, with 46 percent selecting handwashing and 9 percent choosing hand cleansing with waterless sanitizers as the one action they were most likely to take to avoid catching a cold or the flu.
Germs and the Workplace
Respiratory etiquette was clearly expected of co-workers, with more than three quarters of employed respondents saying it bothered them when sick co-workers sneezed or coughed without covering their faces or coughed or sneezed and then touched common surfaces. Twenty-nine percent said they would be annoyed if they were exposed to germs in this way, while 24 percent said they would prefer that a colleague who did this just stayed home.
And speaking of staying home, the top answer from employees to the question What should employers do to reduce the spread of germs in the workplace? was you guessed it sending people home when they show signs of illness. Next was having the cleaning staff disinfect all desks, telephones, doorknobs and other common surfaces on a daily basis during cold and flu season. Keeping the restrooms clean and sanitary came in third and giving employees waterless hand sanitizers was fourth. Giving employees germ-killing facial tissues and putting ill employees in a sick room were tied for fifth place.
When someone does come to work sick, more than a third of employed respondents said they would stay as far away from that person as possible. Twenty percent said they would wash their own hands more often. Eleven percent those altruists again said they would offer to help the sick colleague with his or her work, while 8 percent would be bold enough to remind the ailing co-worker to wash his or her hands. Two percent said they would give them the evil eye.
Given this high degree of peer pressure, why do people come to work when theyre not feeling well?
The top response was fear of falling too far behind (36 percent). Next was feeling guilty about staying home (17 percent) and not wanting other people to do their work (10 percent). Eight percent said they loved their jobs too much to miss even one day and three percent said they feared being perceived as weak if they called in sick.
Germs and the Restroom
When it comes to the restroom, the germ-avoidance strategy here can be summed up as: Wash up. Dont touch!
Keeping hands clean and off restroom surfaces scored high in a question about the restroom products or systems that are most effective in preventing the spread of cold and flu germs. Here, the top choices were working soap dispensers and touch-free dispensers. Next were waterless hand sanitizers. This was followed by an ample supply of paper towels, germ-killing facial tissues, and an adequate supply of toilet paper.
Ironically, when respondents were asked to rate the germiest places in an office building the restroom did not come in first. Telephones and doorknobs did, with the restroom a distant third.
The survey of 1,029 adults nationwide was conducted by telephone from October 8-11, 2004 by Opinion Research Corporation. Of those surveyed, 588 reported being employed full or part-time. The margin of error is plus or minus 3 percent for the entire sample and four percent for those who were employed full or part-time.
Kimberly-Clark Professional, based in Roswell, Ga., provides tissue and towel products, skin care products and industrial wipers for workplace settings.
Source: Kimberly-Clark Healthcare