Every year, anywhere from 5-20% of the US population gets the flu.1 The flu causes U.S. workers to lose up to 111 million workdays at an estimated $7 billion a year in sick days and lost productivity.2 Make sure your workplace stays healthy this flu season by encouraging your employees to get their flu shot.
The flu, otherwise known as seasonal influenza, can begin in October and generally is most common in the months of December to April. It’s a respiratory illness with some of the same symptoms as a cold, like a cough, sore throat, and runny or stuffy nose. With the flu, people often report fever, muscle or body aches, headaches, and tiredness as well.
How does the flu shot work?
The flu vaccine causes antibodies to develop in the body that protect against infection with the most common strains of flu. Most of the time, the flu vaccine is administered as a quick shot in the arm. It should only take a minute or two.
The vaccine is recommended for anyone over 6 months, with rare exceptions, but you should tell your employees to talk to their doctor if they have questions.
Why should my employees get vaccinated?
The vaccine protects from the most common strains of the influenza virus, which can prevent you or your employees from developing rare, but potentially serious, complications of the flu like pneumonia. Also, for those who can’t get vaccinated – like babies under 6 months of age, or people with allergies to one of the substances in the flu vaccine – having everyone around them vaccinated will reduce their risk of getting the flu.
How can I encourage my employees to get the vaccine?
Many companies today offer on-site flu vaccines to employees onsite during working hours. If you work with Fidelity Health Marketplace, Maxim Health – a vendor we work with – can help you give your employees easy access to the flu vaccine and other wellness services at your workplace.
If your company isn’t offering flu vaccines onsite, the Affordable Care Act has made it easier than ever to get a no-cost flu shot – it mandates that insurance companies pay for flu vaccinations from in-network providers. So if your employees go to their primary care doctor or other in-network provider, they can get the shot without a copay. In-network providers typically include major pharmacy chains as well. However, this isn’t always the case, so employees should check with the pharmacy to know the cost of the flu shot before they go. And, if you need to find a location to send employees, check out this tool in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control. Consider sending a companywide email campaign highlighting how easy it is to find a flu shot provider, or posting reminders around the office.
Employees should try to get their flu shot by the end of October if at all possible. But it’s better late than never, so encourage them to get the shot even later in the season to protect themselves and others.