In the Know

Protect Your Employees with a Flu Shot Clinic

08.28.2017 Christopher Celio, MD

Flu season is almost upon us — along with the annual reminders for everyone to get their shots. At St. Joseph Hoag Health, we’re big believers in the power of flu shots, and that they’re the best way to protect your employees from the flu, keeping them healthy and productive. Encourage your employees to get the flu shot by hosting an on-site flu shot clinic at your workplace.

Why encourage your workforce vaccinate against the flu?
There are three main reasons to offer influenza vaccinations in your workplace:

  1. To protect your employees
    Influenza is a serious disease that can cause hospitalization—even death. More than 57,000 deaths resulted from influenza and pneumonia in the United States in 2015, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Everybody is susceptible—and infected employees can spread the disease long before symptoms show.

    Modern corporate environments encourage transmission, with people working in close quarters, often in open “cube farms,” and not necessarily hitting the Purell® every time they shake someone’s hand. An outbreak of flu can spread rapidly through an organization with devastating consequences. The best defense is to reduce the number of active cases, halting the spread before it occurs—ideally, through comprehensive annual vaccination.

    Annual vaccination is necessary because new strains of the virus require new vaccine formulations. Also, the body’s immune response declines over time.
  2. To protect those who cannot (or will not) get vaccinated themselves
    Some people refuse to get a flu shot because they don’t believe it works--or because they think they got sick the last time they got one. But current flu vaccines do not themselves cause the flu.

    And the CDC is very clear in its guidance: “Everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccine every season.”

    Today’s injectable flu vaccines contain “inactive” virus, or no virus at all. Consequently, they are safe for practically everyone in the workplace—including pregnant women and people with chronic health conditions.

    A workplace vaccination program will educate your employees about the importance, effectiveness and safety of the annual shot.
  3. To protect your organization from operational disruption and negative financial impact
    Flu is a leading cause of absenteeism—accounting for as much as 10% of workplace absences. Affected employees will miss up to six days of work. However, it can take more than two additional weeks for full recovery, an even further drain on worker productivity. All that lost time adds up—and although it’s difficult to calculate the exact cost of the flu to American employers, the CDC’s estimate is $7 billion per year.

Let us help you organize a flu shot clinic
If your organization has medical personnel on-site, you could choose to run your own vaccination program. But most companies do not have that luxury. That’s where we come in. We can coordinate and administer an on-site flu shot clinic:

  • We supply experienced, trained nursing staff and all the equipment. You just supply the employees and a good venue—typically a meeting room or conference room—the more prominent the location, the better. You want good foot traffic, so you’re not relying on those super-organized employees who have marked it on their calendar and are counting down the days.
  • Some vaccines have three strains (trivalent) and some have four (quadrivalent)—which some clinicians believe is better because you’re assuming that one of those four strains will be out in the community. At St. Joseph Hoag Health, we typically prefer a quadrivalent vaccine.
  • We send over the paperwork beforehand so employees can complete it ahead of time, making the process go quicker that day. All paperwork is screened so that we catch people who should not receive the vaccine, although this will be a tiny minority.
  • A quick, painless injection into the deltoid muscle (the outside part of the upper arm).It’s a 5-minute process, per employee—and with two or three nurses administering shots, we can vaccinate a large number of your employees, quickly and efficiently.
  • We then count the number of vaccines that were used, and that is what you, as an employer, are billed for.

One large local employer in Orange County has a very proactive flu shot program. We see about 70% of their 1,500 employees — and I would say the cases of influenza have been less than 10 in the last two years. That’s pretty impressive, compared with what I used to see in a regular community clinic.

When should you hold your flu shot clinic?

It’s still a little early to know exactly what the 2017/2018 flu season will look like, but that shouldn’t change the basic planning process for your clinic.

You can schedule your clinic as soon as the vaccine becomes available—usually between late August and October. August might feel a little early for a flu shot; however, since the typical flu season runs from October through May, I would urge you to consider offering the vaccine throughout the season. Or, if that doesn’t make sense for your company, maybe you could hold a second clinic, a few weeks after the first one—especially since the flu season typically doesn’t peak until February, or later. Furthermore, the later people get vaccinated, the more chance they have of getting infected.

For more information about organizing an on-site flu shot clinic for your business, please call 949-381-4781 or email foremployers@stjoe.org.

Sources:
https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/deaths.htm
https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/flu/activities.html

Categories: Worksite Wellness