Author: Dr. David Thorpe
It’s that time of year again – flu and cold season! The flu is rapidly spreading across the United States and is peaking in most states. For drivers, prevention is key considering calling-in to work isn’t exactly an option for most truck drivers; and medications that help treat cold and flu symptoms are often not meant to be taken while driving.
Furthermore, drivers that do experience flu symptoms need to carefully monitor their condition. This is especially important for older drivers and drivers with pre-existing conditions, as additional health aliments, hospitalization and even death can occur.
Free Flu Shots for All Truck Drivers!
Luckily for truck drivers, the St. Christopher Truckers Fund, with sponsorship from OOIDA, Pilot Flying J and Progressive is offering free vaccine vouchers for all professional over-the-road truck drivers that have a current Class A CDL. Drivers have the opportunity to receive FREE flu, shingles and pneumonia vaccines!! All you have to do is print* your voucher and take it to Kroger, The Little Clinic, Walgreen’s or The Medicine Shoppe at White’s Travel Center.
Claim your Free Vaccine
- Kroger&TLC St Christopher Voucher_2018-2019 *can be used electronically or can printed*
- Walgreen’s Flu Voucher
- Walgreen’s Shingles & Pneumonia Voucher
- The Medicine Shoppe Voucher*can be used electronically*
**Your free vaccine voucher will be valid through the expiration date printed on the voucher; although, we recommend claiming your vaccine as soon as possible to decrease the chances of illness keeping you from working.
What are the Statistics?
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that the flu has resulted in between 9.3 million and 49 million illnesses each year in the United States since 2010. Furthermore, since 2010 the CDC estimates that the flu has resulted in between 140,000 and 960,000 hospitalizations each year. Oftentimes it is infant or elderly populations that are hospitalized, however, healthy young adults are not exempt from this.
Additionally, the CDC estimates that the 2017-2018 flu season saw a high of 79,000 deaths (during 2017-2018). The model used to estimate flu-associated deaths uses a ratio of deaths-to-hospitalizations in order to estimate the total flu-related deaths during a season. It is important to note that the CDC reported that in the 2017-2018 flu season, most of the reported deaths came from individuals that were not vaccinated.
Problems the Flu Causes for Truck Drivers
Trucking isn’t the type of job where you traditionally call-in sick to work. If you do happen to become ill with the flu, you will either be forced to rest and lose hours-of-service or resort to taking medications to help get you through your day. Most of these medications are found over-the-counter and are commonly used to treat cough, cold and flu symptoms. Unfortunately, most of these medications have strict warnings that you should not operate a motor vehicle while taking. They oftentimes increase drowsiness, which is something that no driver can afford! Drivers that do become ill should always thoroughly read all instructions and warnings of any medications that they are considering taking. Consult with a healthcare professional, if possible, for the best medications for truck drivers with your illness.
Prevention is Important!
Furthermore, truck drivers work and travel all over the country and are exposed to so many different individuals and environments each day. Subsequently, drivers are also exposed to a number of cold and flu germs as well. That is why prevention is key for driver health and success!
- Wash your hands – Washing your hands regularly will help reduce your risk of catching a communicable illness such as the flu or a nasty cold. In addition to washing your hands, we encourage drivers to have hand sanitizer within your cab. There are even hand sanitizers can go on your key chain. Wash hands and/or use hand sanitizer if exposed to money, door handles, store counters, public bathrooms, sick individuals, etc.
- Wipe Down Steering Wheel & Cell Phone – You don’t need to go over the top, but especially during flu season give your steering wheel and cell phone a wipe down with a sanitizer wipe to help reduce any risk of catching an illness.
- Diet – Your diet can help reduce your risk for coming down with an illness. Eating properly helps to boost your immune system which will fight off any potential illnesses that wants to invade your body!
- Flu Shot – Getting a flu shot can help significantly reduce your risk for getting the flu and potentially losing hours of service and money! The CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older as the first and most important step in protecting against this serious disease. Luckily, the flu shot has never been easier to get for truck drivers! See above to get your free driver flu shot vouchers! While it is your personal choice as to whether or not you want to get vaccinated, by doing so you are taking a huge preventative step.
What Should I do If I Get Sick on the Road?
There are not many worse situations you can think of than becoming ill with the flu while on the road. Unfortunately, there is not much you can do but rest and take cold and flu medications to help with the symptoms. While you can treat the flu with medications, however, as we warned before it is not advisable to operate a motor vehicle while taking most medications for cold and flu symptoms. Oftentimes, it is even advised against driving while taking day-time cold and flu medications. Read labels and takes these warning seriously!
If you do become ill, there are a few things you can do that can help!
- Communicate With Your Dispatch – Your safety is ultimately the number one priority. You could potentially become so ill and fatigued that you are unable to perform your daily duties – communication keeps your employer up-to-date about your condition and helps to ensure your safe to operate a motor vehicle.
- Take Ibuprofen – This will help to reduce aches and pain, as well as reduce fevers. This is also safe to take while driving!
- Rest – If you are working through your illness, we encourage you to rest as much as possible in between shifts. Do not stay up late looking at your phone. Get as much rest as possible!
- Stay Hydrated – Drink as much fluids as possible (water, Gatorade, etc.) Avoid caffeine and alcohol while sick, as they can be dehydrating!
- Take Vitamins – Taking a vitamin not only helps to prevent illness, but it also helps your body fight off any illness once you have one. Taking vitamins can help speed up your down-time!
- Stay Warm! – Keep that heat up in the cab, use heated blankets and layer that clothing!
- Warm Fluids – Drink decaffeinated hot tea, chicken noodle soup, crackers.
- See A Doctor – If your symptoms do not improve, it is important to see a doctor. Sometimes the flu can become life-threatening, and seeking medical attention is necessary. Furthermore, doctors can also provide you with medications to help improve symptoms faster and get you back on the road feeling 100%. You know your body best.
Do not become a statistic this flu season. Take advantage of the resources available to you as a truck driver and be your own best advocate for your health! Don’t let the flu cost you by keeping you off the road!
Check-out our website for more solutions regarding driver health and DOT medical exams! www.PassMyPhysical.com