Only YOU Can Prevent the FLU
According to the United States Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta (CDC), influenza and influenza-related diseases have a huge impact on national health and worker productivity. Businesses should consider flu vaccinations an integral component of their employee health and wellness programming and employee benefits package. Consider these numbers compiled by the CDC research team:
- An average of 36,000 deaths and over 200,000 hospitalizations associated with influenza occur each year in the United States
- The overall national economic burden of influenza-attributable illness for adults is $83.3 billion. Direct medical costs for influenza in adults totaled $8.7 billion including $4.5 billion for adult hospitalizations resulting from influenza-attributable illness
- Influenza is responsible for substantial indirect costs ($6.2 billion annually), mainly from lost productivity. Each year, among adults age 18 to 64 years, 17 million workdays are lost to influenza-related illness
Consider the impact of any lost workdays on your business, especially for businesses running lean and mean to manage the impact of the turbulent economy. Progress made toward reducing lost productivity can make a big impact.
The CDC maintains a comprehensive online resource file replete with flu vaccination information. This year's resources are easily accessible at http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/keyfacts.htm. In addition, employers should educate themselves and their employees in an effort to gain the highest participation numbers possible for flu vaccinations.
Two crucial steps will increase the likelihood that your employees will get vaccinated:
1. Employer subsidized vaccinations
Most employers realize the financial benefits of paying for employee vaccinations, but if full subsidies aren't in the budget, even a modest contribution can make a difference. Also, remember to fully educate employees about insurance and health savings account benefits that can be used to supplement the cost of flu vaccination.
2. Employer-sponsored on-site vaccination clinics
Central Iowa offers a wide variety of resources for scheduling on-site flu vaccination clinics. Vendors work directly with employers to arrange convenient, unobtrusive times to arrange a vaccination clinic on-site, where employees have easy access, free or reduced-cost vaccinations.
Finally, beyond vaccination, employees should be educated about flu prevention and dealing with the illness should they become sick. Post the attached "Flu Prevention" poster in or near all restrooms to remind employees that hand hygiene is the best defense against illness. Remind employees that if they are sick, they should not be coming to work. Recovery from influenza and influenza-related illness is quicker and safer when employees take time to rest. Also, the likelihood of spreading the virus is greatly reduced if employees are encouraged to use sick time when necessary.
For more information about the coming flu season, or to talk with someone at UnityPoint Health - Des Moines about scheduling an on-site flu shot clinic, call (515) 241-5908.
Molinari NA, Ortega-Sanchez IR, Messonnier ML, Thompson WW, Wortley PM, Weintraub E, Bridges CB. The annual impact of seasonal influenza in the US: measuring disease burden and costs. Vaccine. 2007; 25(27):5086-96. Epub 2007 Apr 20.
Thompson WW, Shay DK, Weintraub E, et al. Mortality associated with influenza and respiratory syncytial virus in the United States. JAMA. 2003; 289:179-186.
Thompson WW, Shay DK, Weintraub E, et al. Influenza-associated hospitalizations in the United States. JAMA. 2004; 292:1333-1340.