Flu prevention and the impact on the workplace.
Why a Flu shot is important
Each year, 5-20% of people across the U.S. are infected with the influenza virus.
Influenza is a highly contagious viral respiratory infection that affects the nose, throat and lungs. It is spread by droplets made when people with the virus cough, sneeze or talk. It can also be spread by contact with contaminated surfaces (i.e. toys, tables, doorknobs). Thus, it can spread very rapidly in the workplace.
Flu and the workplace according the CDC
“While an annual flu vaccine is the best way to prevent influenza, three out of every five people in the United States report not being vaccinated. The impact of flu on workplace health and productivity is substantial. American businesses, employees and communities can help CDC prevent and control the flu by promoting annual flu vaccination.
Every year influenza, or “flu,” affects employers and businesses. Flu costs the U.S. approximately $10.4 billion* in direct costs for hospitalizations and outpatient visits for adults.
While there are many different flu viruses, the flu vaccine protects against the viruses that research suggests will circulate the most this season.
There are several flu vaccine options available:
· Traditional flu vaccines made to protect against three different flu viruses (called “trivalent” vaccines) will be available.
· Flu vaccines made to protect against four different flu viruses (called“quadrivalent” vaccines) also will be available.
· For a complete list of all flu vaccine options, visit: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/keyfacts.htm
*Molinari NA, Ortega-Sanchez IR, Messonnier ML, et al. The annual impact of seasonal influenza in the US: measuring disease burden and costs. Vaccine. 2007; 25(27):5086-96.
Chart Source: CDC*Molinari NA, Ortega-Sanchez IR, Messonnier ML, et al. The annual impact of seasonal influenza in the US: measuring disease burden and costs. Vaccine. 2007; 25(27):5086-96.
Getting vaccinated against the flu is the best way to prevent the influenza virus. It is recommended that employees and their family members get an annual vaccine.
As more people get vaccinated, the occurrence of flu that is present in the community decreases. This lowers the probability of flu infection. Additionally, it has been shown to decrease doctor visits, hospitalizations and also decreases the likelihood of one missing work and/or school due to illness. Vaccination also lowers that chance of death due to complications from the flu.
In the 2014-2015 flu season, the Influenza pandemic cost the U.S. economy approximately $87 billion. It also accounted for 40 million illnesses, 19 million medical visits (i.e. Dr office, ER, urgent care) and 970,000 hospitalizations. Additionally, it accounted for nearly 17 million lost work days.
Health care issues do disrupt business continuity. The impact of the flu on the health and productivity of the workplace is quite substantial. Employers and businesses can help the CDC and help one another by promoting the flu vaccine to all employees. This will not only increase productivity but it will also lower healthcare costs and limit complications from the flu.
It is vital that if you have the flu, you should stay home to avoid infecting others in the workplace and the community. Other ways to avoid the spread of infection are to frequently perform hand-washing, cover your cough/sneeze, avoid close contact with anyone who is sick and disinfect contaminated surfaces frequently
Flu season generally starts around October and can last through May. It is recommended that all people age 6 months and older (unless contraindicated by medical condition or status) get vaccinated preferably prior the end of October, as it does take up to 2 weeks for antibodies to form and begin to protect you against the flu.
***The intent of this article is not to serve as medical advice… it is intented to serve as an information resource to facilitate a discussion with your medical professional.***
Next- More on what you need to know and handy resources.