You may (or may not) have noticed a link in my sidebar which features a woman sneezing into a handkerchief with the message, “Stay Home!” It’s a public service announcement from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) referring to H1N1/Swine Flu encouraging people to rest at home if they’re sick to prevent the spread of the disease.

I really feel like this message should apply to every communicable, acute illness one might acquire.

It seems like whenever I get a sinus infection, it lasts for roughly one month and two courses of antibiotics. There may be some viral stuff thrown in there as well. Fibromyalgia isn’t an auto-immune disorder, but it does leave one with a weakened immune system.

As much as it’s uncomfortable for me to have a month-long sinus infection, it’s even worse for someone with more serious immune system issues. What about someone with HIV/AIDS? A cancer patient? An elderly person? For any number of people, a seemingly innocuous common cold could push them into the hospital.

I have my own frustrations with people who send their kids to school with the sniffles, or who come to the office toting a box full of kleenex. At the same time, I understand it. Our society doesn’t value sick leave. Certainly, if you have one of the privileged jobs where you get a paid sick leave, you can take the day off more easily.

People working two or even three jobs, people who are living paycheck to paycheck or have little job security often don’t have the option of taking a day off of work. So, in a large majority of cases, they force themselves to go to work sick, or send their sick kids to school because they can’t take off work to take care of them.

I would love it if some future health care reform included sections on sick leave. Think of how much taking the day off work could help reduce the spread of colds, flu, and other illnesses. A rather selfish hope I suppose, because I think it might reduce the number of times I get sick for a month due to a common cold. I think it would make peoples’ lives better as well.

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