Posted on / Updated on / in Blog & Employee Handbook & HR Policies /

Last year, families and employers worldwide were being stirred into a panic for something that never happened – the 2009 Swine Flu Pandemic. The H1N1 virus was predicted to cause businesses to shut down, power grids to fail, and necessary supplies to be diminished and rationed. Thankfully, that didn’t happen.  However, without an impending global meltdown this year very little is being said regarding flu vaccinations.

Here’s your reminder that flu season should still be on your mind as an employer.

The reason for last year’s concern was that the H1N1 strain was not identified as a major risk until the 2009-2010 standard flu vaccine was already prepared and approved. This left the concern that millions of people would be at severe risk until the appropriate vaccination for H1N1 could be approved and distributed.

Recommendations for Flu Vaccinations Have Actually Expanded From This Time Last Year

This year, the H1N1 concern is actually still valid – however, the standard flu vaccination now already includes the H1N1 strain, as well as others that have been identified as being or particular risk this season (namely, the H3N2 virus and an influenza B virus).

Just because there is no media frenzy over the flu season, however, doesn’t mean that we aren’t encouraged to get our workforces vaccinated. In fact, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has amended and expanded their recommendations for this season to now state that ALL people 6 months and older are recommended to receive the annual influenza vaccination.

Additionally, the CDC has added individuals who are morbidly obese to their classifications of those who are at a higher risk for serious flu complications this season. Other groups include:

  • Pregnant women
  • Children younger than five years of age, but especially children younger than two years of age
  • People 50 years of age and older
  • People of any age with certain chronic medical conditions
  • People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
  • People who live with or care for those at high risk for complications from flu, including
    • Health care workers
    • Household contacts of persons at high risk for complications from the flu
    • Household contacts and out of home caregivers of children less than 6 months of age (these children are too young to be vaccinated themselves)

The Benefit of Flu Vaccinations to an Organization

Helping your workforce obtain their vaccinations is an excellent employee benefit. Not only is it beneficial to employees to have the cost covered by their employer in a sponsored flu clinic, it is also an incredible time saver to the employee for the shots to be available at their work place during the work day. Additionally, this can help strengthen the employee / employer relationship significantly. All are incentives to get vaccinations for employees who otherwise might not get them.

Altruistically, it’s a great thing to keep your employees healthy.  Pragmatically, it’s a great thing to be able to keep your employees working (instead of at home sick). Remember just one sick employee can potentially knock out your entire office.

With this in mind, many organizations also open their on-site flu clinics to spouses and children, or allow for reimbursement for vaccination fees for these family members. Again, it’s a great benefit to help our employees keep their family healthy, too.  Plus, if the kids aren’t sick at home, neither are Mom and Dad at home to take care of them.

If you’ve never been involved in setting up a flu clinic before it can be a daunting task. If you would like assistance in doing so for your workplace, let us at Integrity HR know and we can help you with some recommendations, as well as help you develop a policy for reimbursement of vaccinations accessed elsewhere.

Stay well this flu season everyone and be sure to subscribe to the left if you haven’t already!

(image provided by freedigitalphotos.net)

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about the author: Amy Letke

Amy Newbanks Letke, SPHR, GPHR, is the Founder of Integrity HR, Inc. Amy provides workplace solutions to improve performance, reduce liability and increase profits. She is passionate about helping other entrepreneurs and business owners achieve success.