Illness from flu can cause a general disruption of normal business. Nearly 111 million workdays are missed because of the flu each year, according to flu.gov. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends flu shots for all people over the age of six months (excluding a group that falls within certain risk factors). However, National Immunization Survey (NIS) findings reported by the CDC show that, for the 2012–2013 flu season, only 41.5 percent of people over 18 years of age received the vaccine.
Discovery Health reported a study that explored why people avoid getting the flu vaccine. Among other reasons, the cost of the shot and the time and effort needed to get to the clinic were strong factors. Workplace clinics are one way to counteract both the cost and effort associated with the shot. The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene also reported two studies that show that a flu shot clinic can reduce the costs associated with sick days and health care by up to $95 per vaccinated employee.
If you’re considering sponsoring a flu shot clinic at your workplace, consider the following factors:
- Education is the best defense: Many employees do not get flu shots because they simply do not understand the need. Conquering misconceptions and myths about flu vaccines through explanations of the efficacy and benefits can increase participation in your flu shot clinic.
- Convenience and availability: Busy schedules can make it difficult for people to get to flu shot clinics in their community or at their doctor’s office. Having the shots available at work can be an incentive to get the immunization. Because some absences from work are related to sickness of family members, allowing spouses and children to receive immunization from company-sponsored flu shot clinics may increase participation numbers and general employee job satisfaction.
- Managers and leaders set an example: Managers and business leaders should be the first to participate in an on-site flu shot clinic, assuming that they have no health concerns that preclude their involvement. Showing that leaders make their own health a priority can be an inspiration to the work force.
- Allow attendance at flu shot clinics as part of normal work schedule: Some employees may not participate if it means using “off-the-clock time,” so they should be allowed to receive their flu shot on “company time.” If the clinic is on-site, employees should not need too much time to get the shot.
- Use community resources: Many local pharmacies and community health providers provide flu shot clinics to the public and may be willing to work with businesses to schedule immunization clinics in the workplace.
Seasonal flu can disrupt your business through absences and delays in service, which can have a lasting impact on customers. The expense of conducting a flu shot clinic is offset by fewer absences and higher productivity, making it a very smart business choice.
Mary Parsons is retired from a 30-year career in the insurance industry. She worked in the claims department of a major insurance carrier as a claims adjuster, manager and a member of a catastrophe team. Since her retirement, she has developed a career as a freelance writer. As an insurance professional, she has been a contributor to several insurance websites.