Flu Vaccination? Definitely Worth A Shot! –

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Guest Blog Post By: Jacqueline Bogard, EHS Consultant

Did you know that each year the flu season results in an estimated 100 million lost work days?  According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) that translates into 6.2 billion (yes, BILLION) in lost wages, not to mention direct medical costs of an additional $10.4 bilion. And to compound matters, a recent study conducted by Walgreen’s Pharmacy, showed that nearly 80% of those surveyed who suffered with the flu, said that despite doctor’s orders to stay home, at some point, they still went to work!

So, does your company provide flu shots at work? If you are in a role responsible for employee health and safety,  you might want to consider making flu shots available to your employees.   An onsite flu vaccine clinic is a great way to keep productivity and morale up, and can do wonders for your company’s bottom line!

I’m an Environmental Health & Safety (EHS) Contractor and a part-time employee as an EHS Manager. And I’ve been organizing flu clinics at work for years.  I also make sure to get a flu shot every season.  One year while away on my honeymoon I missed my annual  flu shot. And lo and behold, I came down with a terrible case of the flu that winter.  I was sick for a month, lost 10 days of work, and was so sick I couldn’t even  read or watch TV. Thank God for my dear husband who left offerings of tea, soda crackers and Jell-O on my night stand twice a day.  Since that year I have never missed a flu shot and I have never had a case of the flu like that. (Knock on wood!)

Over the years I’ve encouraged the companies that I have worked for to sponsor onsite flu shots and they have always agreed.  At approximately $20 per shot to help keep employees from getting the flu and avoid sick employees from infect their colleagues, this investment can provide you with a big productivity boost and a wonderful ROI during flu season!  I recall working with a small startup with a staff of  20 people The first winter (before I set up a flu clinic), in any given week about 20% of the company was out sick. A number of these folks had small kids (who are a great source of germs). They always seemed to be the first to get ill, and then it would roll through the whole office. That was a difficult reminder of how critical it is to keep everyone well!

Some people resist getting a flu shot because they are afraid that the vaccine will actually gives them the flu. That is a myth. But if you are exposed to the flu just before getting a shot, you could develop the flu because of previous exposure rather than from the flu shot itself.  It is not uncommon to feel a bit achy or feverish, or have a sore arm for a day or two from the flu shot. When you get your shot if you immediately massage the inoculation spot for 5 -10 minutes, it helps disperse the vaccine and that can minimize any arm pain. The vaccine will be fully effective about 2 weeks after you get the shot.

Over time, I noticed that employees who were reluctant to get flu decided to try a flu shot Once they had a flu-free winter, they too became sold on the concept. So I get lots of ‘repeat customers’.

Flu shots are not 100% effective, but they can greatly reduce the likelihood of you getting the flu at all, and even if you do get the flu, it can be a much milder case (more like a cold than the flu). However, keep in mind that there can be reasons not to get a flu shot including egg allergies since the vaccine is grown in eggs. To be on the safe side,  check with your doctor. But the vast majority of us are good candidates.

Now, you can always go get a flu shot from your doctor,  but the nice thing about the getting vaccinated at work is the convenience factor.  No one has to drive any where or take time off of work  People are in and out an few minutes. It’s quick and easy, so no excuses for not getting one!

A few other considerations:

  • Some work sites allow each employee to bring one family member for a flu shot. They pay the company cost (which is often $10-20 cheaper than, say, at a drugstore).
  • Regular contractors at the site are also allowed to get one and pay the company’s cost.
  • And we also have each person getting the vaccination sign a very brief disclaimer statement holding the company harmless. So everyone is covered.
  • I set up my clinics around the beginning of October. 
  • Each year 3 strains of flu are included in the vaccine.  This year it includes: A:/California-like (2009 H1N1), A:/Victoria-like (2011 H3N2) and B:/Wisconsin/1/2010-like virus.

Flu season has already started with a few months left to go,  so please consider setting up a clinic at your work place soon.   Stay well!

Jacqueline Bogard, has been an Environmental, Health & Safety Consultant since 1976 and has worked at numerous organizations over the years helping them with all aspects of health and safety.  If you want to get in touch with her directly, she can be reached at: jimjackbell@gmail.com 

                     And please leave a comment below about getting or giving flu shots!

                                             Please visit us at:  www.pbergo.com

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