Benefits of On-Site Flu Shots
Posted 8/28/2017 by UHBlog
Every year, one in five U.S. workers can expect to miss work because of the flu. And unlike a cold, the flu packs a wallop and can easily cause employees to miss a week or more of work. Just as bad is how easily transmitted the influenza infection is – and the resulting cost to your company’s bottom line.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the flu virus can survive on hands for 15 minutes. Additionally, it can live up to 48 hours on stainless steel and plastic and up to 12 hours on soft, porous surfaces. Once flu season hits – usually between October and March – the cost to businesses averages about $7 billion per year, says the CDC. Add to that the direct costs for hospitalizations and outpatient visits, and the CDC estimates that costs swell to approximately $10.4 billion.
If you want to avoid a major flu outbreak in your workplace, consider hosting a temporary on-site flu clinic, says employee health manager Laura Fernandez, BSN, RN.
“It’s absolutely a win-win to have a flu clinic on site," Fernandez says. "It offers a lot of benefits to your employees and your business by making the flu vaccine convenient and accessible.“
According to Fernandez, one of the reasons some employees forego getting the flu vaccine is the time involved. For instance, the American Medical Association reports that leaving work for and traveling to a doctor’s appointment can take up to four hours out of an employee’s work day.
“When it’s offered on site, employees can go during the day, or immediately before or after work,“ she says.
Among the benefits of holding a flu clinic on site are:
- Saves companies money – Employers pay less in sick leave and hospitalization costs.
“People often think the flu affects either the very young or the very old, but it also impacts baby boomers, especially those with chronic diseases,” Fernandez says. “Middle-aged people are much more susceptible to chronic diseases, such as diabetes, cancer or lupus, which can require doctor visits or hospitalization.”
- Improves employee productivity – ”Even a common cold affects a person’s productivity and ability to focus,” Fernandez says. “With the vaccine, even if you do get the flu, it will be a milder case.”
- Lowers the spread of flu to other employees – According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, the principle of herd immunity – or community immunity – comes into play when an overwhelming number of your workforce gets vaccinated. When most members of the community are protected against a contagious disease, such as influenza, there’s little opportunity for an outbreak.
- Promotes wellness as an employee perk – When a flu clinic is promoted internally within the company, it’s often viewed as a company incentive, Fernandez says.
“Companies that educate their employees about why this is a good vaccine and address the myths that surround the flu vaccine have better results,” she says.
To make the on-site flu clinic a positive experience, Fernandez recommends that employers follow these best practices:
- Offer the clinic for a full day, as well as before and after work, so all employees have an opportunity to go to the clinic
- Use a centralized location, such as a conference room, and include privacy areas where people are given the vaccine
- Make sure enough vaccinators are on hand – which can be accomplished by hiring an outside health organization – so employees don't have to wait too long
- Email or mail any paperwork that needs to be filled out in advance, and as much as possible, make data gathering electronic
- Offer incentives, such as small candies or other treats, which encourage people to go to the clinic
If you're interested in UH’s on-site flu clinic services, connect with University Hospitals Employer Solutions for more information.
Laura Fernandez, BSN, RN, is manager, Employee Health at University Hospitals.