Of course we would have to not ever read or walk into a drugstore without being reminded! That said, here is one more reminder! There are still rumors and false information that spreads as rapidly as the flu.
What resources and information does your employee population need? HR, Safety, and Wellness should meet and consider options. Gage what is need. Consider,
- How many hours are employees working each day and week? Is having to do anything an extra burden and strain?
- Do any of your employees have transportation issues making it unlikely that they will go anywhere to receive the vaccine?
- What personal issues are your employees also dealing with before and/or
- What are you hearing about trusting or not trusting the vaccine? Where are employees obtaining their information?
- Can you allow an hour of work time for employees to obtain the vaccine?
- Does your insurance plan cover the vaccine without a co-pay?
These are tough times! Everyone is on edge and trying to reduce exposure to COVID. A little extra encouragement, factual information, and reducing any barriers to obtain the vaccine are essential right now!
Encourage employees to get their flu shot early. October is ideal, but November is not too late at all! It takes about two weeks after vaccination to ensure protection. Therefore, it is important to receive the vaccine before the flu virus is in high circulation.
Flu season lasts until March which is about how long the vaccine lasts – about 6 months. Flu season is usually highest in January and February but varies from year to year and by location.
Employees need to know that the vaccine cannot cause the flu because vaccines are made with an inactivated (“killed”) version of the virus or with only components of the virus. Although unlikely, some do develop flu-like symptoms such as a mild fever after getting the shot. This usually passes in a day or two and rarely would this impact work or activities of daily living.
They also need to realize that being vaccinated is not a guarantee they won’t get the flu since the vaccine has a low effectiveness rate (less then 50% and often less than 40% effectiveness).
However, what is essential information to communicate is that research has repeatedly demonstrated that those vaccinated have less severe symptoms, quicker relief, and less serious complications.
- There is a high-dose flu vaccine for those over 65 years of age.
- The recommendations are now that everyone over 6-months old should be vaccinated, with few exceptions.
- Egg allergies is no longer found to be a reason not to get the vaccine; however, there are vaccines not grown in eggs if anyone remains concerned.
- Many symptom relief over-the-counter medicines contain acetaminophen (Tylenol). Exceeding the limit often occurs during flu season and presents a serious health risk, especially liver damage. Many do not realize how dangerous acetaminophen can be – it is, trust us! ALL over-the-counter medicines need to be taken as directed since all have risks. Over the counter does not mean risk free.
- The flu can spread through normal breathing. Remind employees with symptoms to stay home.
- Employees can be contagious before symptoms begin and for a week after symptoms begin. Again, remind employees to stay home and take precautions to prevent the spread of the virus!
- The virus can live on surfaces for up to 48 hours. Hands should be washed frequently with soap and water.
This year presents more concerns and complications since COVID cases are resurging and flu symptoms are unfortunately similar to COVID. Both cause respiratory illnesses and are similarly spread – by contact, droplets and fomites. The same public health measures for COVID protect from the flu:
- Hand hygiene (wash frequently for 20 seconds)
- Respiratory etiquette (cough in your elbow, or a tissue which needs to be immediately disposed) and
- And of course physical distancing and wearing masks for COVID will also protect us from the flu.
Here are resources for additional information:
Comparison of the Flu with COVID-19
Image by Liz Masoner from Pixabay