How employers can keep their workforce healthy during flu season

As signs point to a potentially rough flu season ahead for the United States, employers this fall can promote a healthier workforce and community by encouraging their employees to get the flu shot, which will help workers avoid the flu and avoid hospitalizations. 

After two years of lower-than-average cases of seasonal flu, this winter may see a return to higher numbers of the respiratory virus in Arizona. With the southern hemisphere, specifically Australia, coming out of its winter, public health officials have a fair predictor of northern hemisphere flu activity. Australia in 2022 saw its highest rates of influenza in five years. 

“Unfortunately, Australia’s recent experience with influenza could be a sign of things to come for the U.S.,” Arizona Health Systems Alliance CEO Brittney Kaufmann said. “The good news is, though, that we have effective vaccines to keep Americans from becoming ill or overwhelming the healthcare system.” 

The National Foundation for Infectious Disease (NFID) reports the effects of flu on “employers and businesses cost an estimated $11.2 billion in direct and indirect costs in the U.S. annually.” 

Employers looking to support a healthy workforce and community can play a crucial role in stopping the predictions of a harsh flu season from coming true. The lessons learned from the pandemic – good handwashing, covering your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing, and staying home when showing signs of illness – still apply. But prevention is the best option at limiting flu cases and the potential deaths that occur. 

“The flu vaccine is a quick, easy way to boost your protection from serious illness this season,” Kaufmann said. “Many employers try to keep their employees and workplaces healthy by encouraging the flu vaccine and offering on-site shot clinics.” 

This year’s flu shots give Americans options depending on their unique health situations. 

Those wishing to protect themselves and their families can choose a non-egg-based vaccine, which is available for infants – a flu shot is recommended for children as young as 6 months – and those with an egg allergy. 

Flu is most dangerous for people aged 65 and older, young children, pregnant women and people with certain health problems including heart and lung diseases. For these folks there is a flu shot option with a safe and effective built-in immune system booster. Every option of flu vaccine available this season provides a reinforced effort that protects against four strains of flu, a “quadrivalent” vaccine rather than a single or double strain. 

For more than 50 years Americans have had access to safe, effective flu vaccines that have proven to decrease cases of flu, limit symptoms of those who do contract flu after vaccinating, reduce hospitalizations and deaths. The CDC reports that during the 2019-2020 flu season, the flu vaccine prevented approximately 7.5 million flu illnesses, 3.7 million influenza-associated medical visits, 105,000 influenza-associated hospitalizations, and 6,300 influenza-associated deaths. Find more information about the quadrivalent flu vaccine here or a flu shot provider near you here.

Robert Clarke

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