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Summary: Many medical professionals are worried about how the annual flu season might be worse than normal while the Coronavirus is still highly infectious as well. It is more important than ever to prepare your workforce for the yearly influenza virus — starting with encouraging employees to get a flu shot.
Your employees need a flu shot
The Coronavirus pandemic upended life for businesses across America this year. Many had to quickly adjust to new working situations and locations as well as new work-life balance challenges. But COVID-19 emerged largely during the spring and summer. Now, as winter approaches, it is not the only virus to be concerned about.
Many medical professionals are concerned about the unknown impact the annual flu season might have this year. It could be worse than normal while the Coronavirus is still highly infectious as well. The best way to prepare for this unknown is getting the flu vaccine.
Preparing your workforce for the yearly influenza virus is more important than ever — starting with encouraging employees to get a flu shot.
Avoiding a “twindemic”
Many of the same populations are vulnerable to the COVID-19 and the flu:
- The elderly
- Immune-compromised people
- Pregnant people
The flu also spreads rapidly among children—more than COVID-19 seems to thus far.
The best way to prevent the spread of influenza is with the flu shot, which is proven to reduce cases and fatalities. But a 2019 study from the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases reveals concerning statistics on attitudes toward the flu vaccine.
Only about half the survey takers said they planned to get a flu shot.
- 51 percent believe that flu vaccines do not work well
- 34 percent are concerned about the side effects of the vaccine
- 22 percent fear getting the flu from the vaccine
Consider asking your staff if they share these or other concerns, either in a staff meeting or more individual conversations. You can then talk to them about the importance of the flu shot, or direct them to useful information. You could also consider bringing in a doctor or medical professional to discuss the subject with them and answer any questions they have. Encourage them to talk to their doctor directly as well.
COVID-19 and the yearly flu have many similar symptoms. If any of your employees feel fluish, you may want to recommend they get tested for COVID-19 — especially before returning to an in-person work situation. Note that these symptoms are what is typical, but can vary by person. Always talk to your doctor about your specific symptoms or concerns.
- Runny nose
- Sinus congestion
- Fever or feeling feverish/chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Sore throat
- Muscle pain or body aches
- Loss of taste or smell
Life cycle of the flu
Like the Coronavirus, people with influenza can feel fine but still be contagious. They will usually start to show symptoms earlier than those with COVID-19, though. The life cycle of a virus is designed to help it spread and can lead to the frustrating circumstance of multiple employees taking sick time at once.
- Most people with flu are contagious for about at least one day before they show symptoms.
- Symptoms can arise one to four days after infection.
- Older children and adults are the most contagious during the first four days, but remain contagious for about a week.
- Babies and people with weaker immune systems can be contagious for even longer.
Encourage your employees to get a flu shot
The number-one way to avoid getting and spreading the flu is by getting the annual flu shot. You can encourage your employees to do so in a few ways:
- Hold an officewide challenge
- Offer an incentive or have a raffle for those who get the vaccine
- Remind them of their benefits — the flu shot is typically 100 percent covered by their health insurance
- Check to see if their plan includes rewards for getting the flu shot (some plans give members $50 for getting the vaccine)
- Arrange to have a mobile flu shot clinic visit your worksite if you have employees remaining in person, if financially feasible
The flu shot helps maintain overall and long-term health, which keeps costs low for both you and your employees. Ensure that the vaccine is a positive part of your office culture. Have a dialogue with your employees to ensure they feel encouraged and supported. It is more important than ever this year.