INFLUENZA

Flu Vaccination Programs Are Good For Business

Tips for Businesses Seeking to Prevent Employee Illness and Reduce Absenteeism

Who Should Be Vaccinated Against The Flu?
The CDC recommends that all persons over 6 months of age should be vaccinated every year against the flu.  Flu viruses change every year, meaning that it is not unusual to see new flu viruses to appear each year.

The Benefits of Flu Vaccination
Many of us can remember how we are told, every year, to “Get Your Flu Shot”!  We also hear that the effectiveness of the flu shot varies from year-to-year.  So the question that we hear every year is – “Should I get the flu vaccine”?

First, let’s look at some reasons to get the flu vaccine each year. According to the CDC getting vaccinated against the flu can help to keep you from getting sick.  This not only protects you, but those around you – friends, family, co-workers, and in particular those who are more vulnerable to the serious complications of the flu.  

Being vaccinated can also make your illness milder if you do get the flu (no vaccine is 100% effective!)  Factors such as age, overall health, and the “match” between the flu vaccine and the viruses in circulation that season are all factors in determining effectiveness for the individual patient.

The flu vaccine is an important preventive tool for people with chronic health conditions – especially cardiac and respiratory problems.  The flu vaccine also helps protect women during pregnancy and their babies for up to 6 months after birth.

How To Promote Flu Vaccination To Your Employees
The CDC provides many resources for business to help them prevent the flu in their workforce.  Some strategies to minimize absenteeism and increase productivity include – hosting a flu vaccination clinic in the workplace.  Offer the vaccine to employees at no or low cost.  

If you do not have an on-site occupational health clinic, work with an Occupational Health (OH) nurse in your area to identify and contract with an organization that is able to come on-site at hours designed to meet the needs of your employees.  If this is not feasible, you might wish to refer your employees to pharmacies or other community vaccinators to make it easy for the employees to get protected.

At every opportunity, promote flu vaccination in the community.  Let employees know where friends, family and other relatives can get flu vaccines in their community.  

When hosting a flu vaccination clinic, get senior management buy-in for support.  Frame employee vaccination as a business priority and create an organizational goal aligned with this effort.  Identify a coordinator and/or team with defined roles and responsibilities.  Schedule the clinic at convenient times to maximize participation.  More tips are provided in the form of a checklist, that can be found here:  http://www.cdc.gov/flu/pdf/business/checklist.pdf

The Benefits of Flu Vaccination To Your Organization
Can offering a Flu Vaccination Program at work benefit your organization?  There is information available showing that vaccination is associated with a significant reduction in the rate of influenza-like illness (adjusted odds ratio: 0.48; 95% CI: 0.27 to 0.86) resulting in fewer days of illness and less absenteeism, concluding the 50-to-64-year age group should be targeted as high priority in future vaccination programs. 

A more detailed discussion of the benefits of vaccination against influenza can be found at:  http://whs.sagepub.com/content/62/12/508.full.pdf+html

For more details providing information for Businesses and Employers, please consult the CDC website:  http://www.cdc.gov/flu/business/
 
Chad Rittle
DNP, MPH, RN, FAAOHN
Assistant Professor, Nursing Department
Chatham University
Pittsburgh, PA
Want more information on Influenza immunizations?  Head to the AAOHN Online Academy and view two FREE webinars from the CDC:

Seasonal Influenza and Other Adult Immunizations Update with the CDC
Presented by Dr. Erin Kennedy
Updates in Adult Immunizations
Presented by Dr. David Kim