Raise a Glass to Pink’s Anthem, but Stay Home if You Got the Flu

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By Jon Steingart

If you have the flu, don’t go to work. That’s the standard advice.

When you’re one of the world’s top singers and you have a gig at the Super Bowl, the show must go on.

Pink performed the national anthem at the Super Bowl despite having the flu, but her situation is far from typical.

“The vast majority of Americans are not in the situation where Pink is,” Julie Vogtman, director of job quality and senior counsel at the National Women’s Law Center in Washington, told Bloomberg Law. “We are not in a situation where we feel terrible and need to report for work anyway because it is a major career-defining moment.”

“Most of us have jobs where we are important but are not irreplaceable on any given day,” she said. Research shows a lower flu infection rate when workers have access to paid sick leave, she said.

Most days at work also don’t involve fulfilling a long-term dream with millions of people looking on.

Pink wasn’t paid for her Super Bowl performance, but it’s an opportunity few would pass up.

“I’ve been waiting to sing this song since 1991 when I saw my idol, Whitney Houston, own this song,” Pink wrote alongside an Instagram photo of herself rehearsing on Feb. 3, the day before the big game. “And now, my chance has finally come. And it just so happens that this chance comes when I have two small Petri dish kids who literally cough INTO MY MOUTH and rub their snot on my cheek.”

Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, said the standard advice is still the best advice when it comes to the flu and work.

“Get your flu shot. That’s always the best protection,” he told Bloomberg Law. “If you’re sick, stay home. If you’re not feeling well, you’re not going to be as productive. All you’re going to do is get other people sick.”

“There are many other ways to do your work without being face to face,” Benjamin said. “If someone tells you they absolutely, positively have to go to work, in most cases they just haven’t preplanned well enough.”

Benjamin acknowledged there are some jobs that can’t be performed remotely. “If you’re a bulldozer driver, yeah you can’t do your work,” he said. “Don’t you work with pretty hazardous equipment? I’m not so sure you want to operate hazardous equipment with the flu.”

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