All it takes is one sick employee to spread the flu around the office—resulting in an abundance of sick days and a potentially sizable dent in productivity. All that missed work, whether through absenteeism or presenteeism, is bad for business.
If you don’t want influenza to spread through your organization this season, consider educating your colleagues about the illness, offering on-site flu shots and encouraging employees to get vaccinated every year. Here’s what you need to know about managing flu season at the office.
An Influenza Diagnosis Should Be Taken Seriously
Fever, chills, muscle aches, a sore throat and sneezing are all common symptoms of the flu. However, many people mistake these symptoms for the common cold, and continue working until it’s clear that those aches and pains are actually quite serious.
Every year, there are millions of cases of the flu. The illness can exacerbate other medical issues and even potentially end in death. During the 2017–18 flu season, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported that nearly 49 million people were diagnosed with influenza, with an estimated 79,000 of those cases being so serious that they resulted in death.
Fortunately, small efforts can make a huge difference in prevention. According to the CDC, cleaning and disinfecting surfaces, covering coughs and sneezes, consistent hand washing and staying home to recuperate if you’re feeling ill can all make significant strides in avoiding transmission of the flu from one employee to another.
Educating Colleagues on the Benefits of Flu Shots
And there’s one more simple step staff can take to stay healthy this year—getting a flu shot. The CDC reports that the flu vaccine has been shown to reduce flu-related illnesses as well as the risk of serious flu complications that can result in hospitalization or even death.
What’s even better is that prevention won’t cost your colleagues anything. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), “Flu and other vaccines are required to be covered by your health insurance without charging a copayment or coinsurance.” However, the HHS urges individuals to contact their insurance company directly before getting the flu shot, as some plans require that a doctor be the one to administer it, or the plan may limit the outside agencies allowed to administer the vaccine.
Where Is the Flu Shot Available?
Educating your fellow employees is the first step, but informing them of where they can get the vaccine—whether off-site or during an on-site clinic right in your workspace—is equally important. If your coworkers plan on getting vaccinated elsewhere, they have a few options of where to go.
First, their primary care doctor will likely have the vaccine available for all current clients. Pregnant employees can also get their vaccination administered at their obstetrician’s office. If staff members are in-between doctors, they should go to a walk-in clinic at either a pharmacy or urgent care location.
Providing On-Site Flu Shots to Staff
There’s one more option for helping your colleagues get vaccinated. Organizations can sponsor office-wide clinics that provide on-site flu shots, allowing employees to get vaccinated right at work. This could be offered as part of a larger company wellness day or a stand-alone event.
To implement this initiative, first contact your company’s health insurance provider, as many will offer a program like this to their employer groups. If one isn’t available, there are other organizations that offer programs with on-site flu shots, though there may be a cost to your business. If you go this route, remind all employees to first contact the insurance company in order to ensure the vaccine won’t cost them anything.
Are you looking for tools and resources to help your fellow employees better manage their dental benefits? Take some time to explore the Employer Toolkit on United Concordia Dental’s website.