How the Modern Workplace Can Inhibit the Spread of the Flu
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How the Modern Workplace Can Inhibit the Spread of the Flu

How the Modern Workplace Can Inhibit the Spread of the Flu

Some employers have increased their efforts to try to avoid the dreaded flu virus at the workplace. By incorporating an on-site flu-vaccination clinic at the work place, more employees take advantage of the vaccine, and the absentee rate during flu season goes down.

aThe influenza season can begin as early in October and last until April (or as late as May!) The CDC says that: “The outbreak of influenza costs businesses approximately $10.4 billion in direct costs for hospitalizations and outpatient visits each year.” The CDC also reports that, “An average of 5-20 percent of U.S. residents get the flu each year and more than 200,000 are hospitalized.”

What ages need a flu shot? The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older receive a flu vaccination. A flu shot is especially important for people with medical conditions such as heart disease, asthma or diabetes. Pregnant women and healthcare workers should get a flu shot, as well.

When should we get a flu shot? The best time to get the flu shot is before fall begins, so that you are prepared. “It takes about two weeks after being vaccinated for the immunity to build up.” Said Dr Koh

How can the flu impact the workplace? The flu’s impact on the workplace can be significant. Every year millions of people take time off if they have gotten the flu, or if family members have gotten it.

Health and safety measures advise employers to use this time to prepare flu-prevention programs to protect workers and reduce the transmission of the seasonal flu virus. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), companies should:

  • Promote the use of flu shots.
  • Encourage sick workers to stay home.
  • Promote hand washing and covering your cough, with signage at work.
  • Educating people about the spread of the virus is also important.

Common misconceptions about the flu:

  1. A common misconception about the flu virus, is that the shot can give you the flu. This is not the case. Flu shots don’t give people the flu because it is not the live virus.
  2. Another common misconception about the shot, is that it always can prevent the flu virus. It cannot prevent the flu virus 100 percent of the time, but if you get sick after you were vaccinated, it will be milder than if you had not gotten the shot at all.

What you can do at your workplace to minimize the impact of the influenza virus:

  • Consider an on-site flu-vaccination clinic at your workplace.

To minimize the impact of a flu outbreak at work, employers can offer workers onsite seasonal flu vaccination for a low fee. You can create a rotating schedule to maximize employee opportunities. If large companies can get on board, we can minimize the spread of the virus in our community.

  • There could also be an allowance of time off for half a day, with proof of a flu vaccination shot.

*The vaccinations would need to be voluntary at the workplace. The Americans with Disabilities Act could prohibit the enforcement of a mandatory-vaccination policy. A collective bargaining agreement between an employer and a union may also prevent an organization from unilaterally instituting this type of policy.

Prevent the spread of the flu with proper germ control in the workplace. Employees should avoid shaking hands, or coming in close contact, with co-workers and others who may have a cold or the flu. As cold and flu season ramp up, common breeding grounds for germs can be telephones, elevator buttons, water fountains, computer keyboards, and bathroom faucets and door handles. Cleaning frequently touched surfaces is one way to cut down on the number of cold and flu germs that are passed from one co-worker to another.

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