Photo credit: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Europe District
Despite the health risks associated with the flu, only 31.2 percent of adults ages 18-50 and 45.5 percent of adults ages 50-64 receive flu shots, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2014 National Health Interview Survey.
Along with the obvious health risks of the flu for sick employees, employers can see negative effects in their bottom line and in the productivity of the workforce. If an employee is out with the flu, they are typically out for three business days, according to Tina Coleman, director of sales and operations at Omaha, Nebraska-based wellness company Occuvax.
As a rule of thumb, if an employer can vaccinate 70 percent of its workforce, it typically sees zero incidences of the flu, she added. According to the CDC research, the only age group to actually accomplish this percentage is adults 65 and older, many of whom are retired.
One way companies can promote the same success rate for younger people still in the workforce is by setting up an on-site flu vaccination at the workplace.
Costs vary, depending on the size of the company and the region. Considering the loss in production from employees taking sick days, the cost of flu outbreaks to a company’s bottom line typically exceeds the cost of setting up an on-site clinic.
“[A lot of medium and small-sized employer groups] are limiting more and more things due to cost, things like wellness programs or ability to have coverage for certain health benefits,” Coleman added. “This is one of the things that has very minimalist impact to their bottom line.”
Some creative ideas for promoting vaccinations include rewarding employees points in a wellness program, setting up a raffle or buying employees a nice breakfast.
“Another trend we’re seeing is an actual requirement for vaccination of employees,” she said. “It really depends on the values of the employer group.”
This requirement already exists in organizations like hospitals and health care providers, but she expects this trend to expand to other industries as flu coverage becomes more prevalent during the fall and winter in mainstream media.
Andie Burjek is a Workforce associate editor. Comment below, or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Workforce on Twitter at @workforcenews.
Tags: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, flu shot, health care, Occuvax, sick days
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