When we talk about vaccinating to prevent diseases, we generally think about the standard vaccinations we received as infants or adolescents. But there are many cases in which adults should also be immunized to protect their health. One of them is the seasonal influenza vaccine, but there are others of which you may be unaware. Employers can help resolve that knowledge gap by implementing a corporate wellness program that includes vaccinations, along with biometric screening and education.
Why adult vaccinations are important
Although vaccinations are one of the best prevention methods for vaccine-preventable diseases, thousands in the U.S. are still dying from these diseases each year. Child vaccination programs have great success rates and have nearly eliminated many infectious diseases, but there’s a large gap between adult vaccination goals and actual vaccination rates. Part of the reason for that gap is education. There’s a lack of information being disseminated to adult populations about situations in which they should be vaccinated, including:
- Diseases change and new strains appear. Also, immunity diminishes over time.
- A person may be in a situation where it’s very important to avoid infecting others. A vaccination can help keep them from getting sick and passing it on to others.
- Situations change and a person may be exposed to different health threats due to job changes or new hobbies.
- International travel often requires the traveler to be vaccinated against certain diseases.
Which vaccinations should adults receive?
The most common adult vaccination is for influenza, and adults should receive an annual vaccination because the influenza strain changes and evolves each year. In addition to a flu shot, health professionals recommend the following vaccinations for most U.S. adults:
- Tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis: Everyone needs a booster every 10 years to maintain protection.
- Shingles (herpes zoster): One two-dose series for people over 50.
- Pneumococcal: People over 65, or younger adults with certain conditions such as heart disease or asthma, need a vaccination followed by a booster a year later for full immunity.
- Hepatitis A and B: If you have certain risk factors you should get a two-dose vaccination. Check with your physician.
If a person is planning to travel out of the country, they will need to check with authorities about what vaccinations are required. And there are several vaccines under development, including West Nile virus, Lyme disease, and hepatitis C vaccines. When these become available, people will likely want to receive them if they might be at risk.
Using biometric screening to identify vulnerable employees
Vaccinations are one of the most important ways an organization can cut health care costs and reduce employee absenteeism due to illness. Biometric screening can identify vulnerable groups and recommend appropriate vaccinations. One of the most important benefits is that it gives the screeners a chance to educate workers about the importance of vaccinations and which ones are recommended. It also makes sense to have health and immunization records securely stored in a single HITRUST® location.
To increase participation in your immunization program, companies can use incentives such as holding a contest for the department with the highest percentage of vaccinated employees.
Creating a pro-vaccine culture at your workplace will help ensure the health and safety of your entire team, their families, and everyone with which they come into contact. Vaccines not only keep the recipient safe, but also those around us who may be more susceptible, at risk, or have compromised immune systems. This is called Community Immunity, which bolsters overall vaccination effectiveness as participation increases.
To learn more about the importance of being up-to-date on vaccines in the workplace, reach out to us and we’ll be happy to help out!