by WEX Benefits
Does your health and wellness program have one of the most important elements to make it successful this year? Flu shot initiatives can yield a big return on investment by keeping employees healthy and not missing work. And because so many Americans avoided the flu last season due to social distancing, some experts feel this flu season may be a tough one.
Why should you encourage flu shots?
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), every flu season is different, and the flu can affect people differently. Having the flu can mean a few days of feeling bad and missing work, or it may have more serious results. The National Foundation for Infectious Diseases found that during the 2019-2020 flu season, flu vaccination prevented approximately 7.5 million flu illnesses and 105,000 hospitalizations. Annually within the U.S., the flu affects employers and businesses to the tune of $11.2 billion in direct and indirect costs.
Tips for preventing the spread of influenza
Employers can also use their wellness program to inform employees about the necessary steps to take to prevent the spread of influenza. Helpful tips that the CDC and experts suggest posting and explaining to employees are:
- Effective hand washing methods
- Proper cough and sneeze hygiene, including covering your mouth and nose with a tissue
- Avoid touching your mouth, nose, and eyes
- Get enough rest
- Avoid close contact with sick people
- Stay home when you are sick
Some employers may decide that offering their own on-site flu clinic is the way to go. To get buy-in, wellness plan sponsors should review flu vaccination prevention and rationale with senior executives, managers and labor representatives, if applicable, prior to hosting the event. The CDC also makes these recommendations to ensure a successful workplace flu clinic:
- Schedule the flu vaccination clinic to maximize employee participation. Flu season usually begins in the fall each year so having it coincide with open enrollment may work well.
- Promote the flu vaccination clinic with posters, social media, and email blasts with save-the-date reminders.
- Ask managers to allow employees to attend the clinic during their workday without needing to go off the clock.
- Offer the flu clinic vaccinations to employee’s families.
- Use incentives such as offering the vaccine for free or holding a contest to reward the department with the highest percentage of participation.
Annual flu vaccinations are the best way to prevent the flu. Help protect your remote employees by helping them locate local vaccination clinics.