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AOA Survey Finds 42 Percent of Americans Believe Getting Sick is Inevitable During Cold and Flu Season

Most People Surveyed Believe the Workplace and Public Transportation Are Most Likely Sources of Infection

By AOA Media Team


Most People Surveyed Believe the Workplace and Public Transportation Are Most Likely Sources of Infection

CHICAGO, Dec. 28, 2016—A new survey, conducted online by Harris Poll, on behalf of the American Osteopathic Association, finds 42 percent of Americans believe getting sick during cold and flu season is inevitable. The same survey found 36 percent believe the workplace to be the most likely place to catch a cold or the flu, while nearly a quarter (24%) think public transportation to be the culprit.

Other options for sources of contamination included the home (from family or roommates, 18%), gyms (4%), bars or restaurants (3%), and places of worship (3%).

While preventative measures won’t stop every winter illness, osteopathic physicians advise patients that there are multiple steps they can take to ward off sickness. Rob Danoff, DO, an osteopathic family physician, offers the following tips for staying well:

Get a flu shot and make sure your family is vaccinated.

The flu shot may not save your life, but it very well could save someone else’s, according to Dr. Danoff, who adds that children who receive the flu vaccine are far less likely to be hospitalized by the flu. The shot also helps protect those who cannot be vaccinated, as well as the elderly and those with preexisting conditions that make flu a greater threat.

Upgrade your hand washing technique.

Scrub like a doctor and you’ll avoid myriad germs that the typical “wringing and rubbing” technique misses. Researchers who looked at people’s freshly washed hands found that the insides of the fingers often aren’t clean, Dr. Danoff noted, giving the hundreds of viruses that cause colds a safe hiding place. Also remember to scrub the backs of your hands and under the finger nails.

Eat your veggies and go to bed.

Get your vitamins from food, not a pill, and you’ll reap countless protective health benefits. Better nutrition directly translates to better resilience and fewer illnesses, according to Dr. Danoff. Add seven-to-nine hours of daily sleep and your body is primed to battle the pathogens that proliferate when people spend more time indoors.

Get outside when the sun shines.

Decreased levels of vitamin D can weaken your immune system. Take a morning or afternoon walk to soak up the sparse rays during the winter months and you’ll boost both your mood and your immunity.

Keep moving.

Adding exercise on top of a daily sunshine walk makes your immune system function more effectively. A bit of indoor cardio or strength training conditions your body to fight off illness—including the winter doldrums. Drink enough water to meet your hydration needs, which don’t drop along with the temperature.

Stay social.

People have a tendency to “socially hibernate” during winter. Humans are social beings and positive interactions with friends improves mood and wards off depression, which can compromise the immune system.

Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine (DOs) focus on prevention by gaining a deeper understanding of your lifestyle and environment, rather than just treating your symptoms. To learn more, visit

About the American Osteopathic Association

The American Osteopathic Association (AOA) represents more than 123,000 osteopathic physicians (DOs) and osteopathic medical students; promotes public health; encourages scientific research; serves as the primary certifying body for DOs; and is the accrediting agency for osteopathic medical schools.

Survey Methodology: This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of AOA from Dec. 16–20, 2016, among 2,088 U.S. adults ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact Sheridan Chaney at​