Each year, seasonal influenza has a marked impact on businesses and employers. Seasonal flu can cause increased absenteeism, decreased productivity and higher health care costs. As an employer, you are well-positioned to help keep your employees healthy and minimize the impact that influenza has on your business. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends strategies for employers to help fight the flu.
Host a Flu Vaccination Clinic
One of the most important steps for preventing the flu is to get an annual flu vaccination. The CDC recommends that all people over the age of 6 months get a flu vaccine each year. Hosting an onsite flu vaccination clinic can help educate employees about the importance of vaccination, and make it easier for them to get vaccinated. The CDC offers these tips:
- Consider getting employees vaccinated against flu as a business priority and create a goal aligned with this effort.
- Identify a flu vaccination coordinator and/or team with defined roles and responsibilities. Determine if you will need to contract with an outside provider of flu vaccination services (such as a pharmacy or community immunizer).
- Schedule the flu vaccination clinic to maximize employee participation. Flu season usually begins in the fall of each year.
- Provide accessible flu vaccination in as many business locations as possible.
- Provide a comfortable and convenient location for the flu vaccination clinic.
- Allow employees to get vaccinated during their normal work day.
- Set an example by having managers and business leaders get vaccinated first.
- Use incentives, such as offering the vaccine at no or low cost, providing refreshments at the clinic or holding a contest for participation percentage among departments.
- Promote the flu vaccination clinic with posters, an article in the company newsletter or intranet, informational flyers and e-mails.
- Set a participation goal to demonstrate to employees that participation is important.
- Consider offering flu vaccination to employees’ families.
Educate Your Employees
If you choose not to provide an onsite flu vaccination clinic, you can still emphasize the importance of vaccination to your employees, and educate them about local opportunities to get vaccinated. In addition, educate employees about flu prevention strategies, including:
- Covering nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing
- Washing hands often with soap and water (or using alcohol-based hand sanitizer)
- Avoiding close contact with sick people
- Staying home from work when sick, and limiting contact with others
Ask your Texas Associates Insurors representative to provide you with employee educational materials regarding flu prevention, vaccination promotion and good hygiene. Also, consult the CDC seasonal flu toolkit for more information and resources: www.cdc.gov/flu/pdf/business/Toolkit_Seasonal_Flu_For_Businesses_and_Employers.pdf.