As many businesses continue to struggle with the disruptions and challenges brought on by COVID-19, the prospect of a looming influenza (flu) season is likely not on their radar — but it should be. Coupled with COVID-19, it’s expected that there will be an increased demand for the flu vaccine. As a result, businesses can – and should – be proactive in protecting their employees by hosting a flu vaccination clinic. Not only can vaccinations reduce illness, absenteeism, and lost productivity, they also help to increase employee well-being, and reduce overall health costs.
Influenza in the workplace
The annual influenza virus takes an enormous toll on U.S. workers and businesses. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates the flu virus causes 42 million illnesses annually and 61,200 fatalities. For U.S. businesses, the flu contributes to more than 110 million missed workdays and an estimated $16.3 billion of lost earnings each year.
Effect of COVID-19 on flu season
This year, businesses need to remain diligent and proactive with their health and wellness programs to protect their workforce from not only the flu, but COVID-19 as well. COVID-19 has taken the world by storm, increasing levels of stress and uncertainty as well as justifiable concern over the health and wellbeing of themselves and all those around them. Now, with the flu season fast approaching, those concerns will only be exacerbated as the cloud of uncertainty hangs heavy over the outcomes from both of these viruses in the fall.
Even before COVID-19, influenza and other respiratory diseases ranked as the eighth-leading cause of death in the United States. In fact, the flu and COVID-19 have similar symptoms, which will likely lead to additional stress and an increase in testing. If an employee gets both COVID-19 and influenza, there is greater risk of serious complications, lowered immunity against other infectious diseases, and increased recovery time.
Masks and social distancing seem to have slowed the spread of COVID-19, but a recent resurgence of new cases in certain areas indicate that perhaps people are growing tired of those measures and/or we are trying to re-open too fast. This is a good time to reinforce the importance of social distancing, sanitization practices, hand hygiene, and face coverings. These measures are not just effective for COVID-19, they also can reduce the spread of other respiratory viruses, including the flu.
Prioritizing your employee vaccination program
Immunization is our greatest defense against most respiratory diseases. As of now, there is no vaccine to combat COVID-19; however, there is a vaccine that’s effective against the flu virus. Workplace flu vaccination clinics can take advantage of this availability to offer a layer of protection against the flu. In fact, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) estimates that a vaccination rate between 33% and 73% of your workplace population can help achieve “herd Immunity,” which will help protect your workers from a widespread flu outbreak.
Outsourcing your vaccination clinic with an experienced provider is a smart move. By using Impact Health, for example, you simply schedule a day and time for your vaccination clinic and our health promotion associates will come prepared with the necessary vaccines, equipment, and supplies. Our health promotion associates will have recently tested negative for COVID-19 and will be temperature screened prior to entering your workplace. We also can schedule temperature screenings and COVID-19 testing for your employees in conjunction with your flu vaccination clinic.