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Tackling Influenza-Like Illnesses and Covid-19: Two Birds With One Stone?

While the coronavirus pandemic is the hottest disease of the year, the CDC has likened its symptoms to those of the common cold or flu. Prior to 2020, seasonal influenza was reported to have taken its toll on tens of thousands of Americans every year. It’s no surprise that the flu has significantly impacted businesses, as affected employees can lead to higher health care costs, absenteeism, and lower productivity. How can you help? As an employer, you’re probably in the best position to keep your employees healthy and minimize the impact of flu. The Centers for Disease and Control Prevention (CDC) recommends a couple of strategies to help fight the flu. Furthermore, while the following preventive measures are specific to the flu, you might find yourself and your company much better equipped during the current pandemic crisis that we’re facing today if some of these protocols were already being practiced.

Host a Flu Vaccination Clinic

The CDC has announced that getting the flu vaccine shows no evidence of increasing risk of contracting Covid-19. In fact, the vaccine may aid in preventing the contraction of the virus. The CDC suggests that all people over the age of 6 months get this vaccine by October 2020. Hosting an onsite flu vaccination clinic or offering online workshops (given this year’s work-from-home, quarantine way of life) can help educate employees about the importance of preventing the flu through vaccinations. Here are a few helpful tips to conduct a flu clinic:

  • Make flu vaccinations for employees a business priority and create goals that accomplish this effort.

  • Identify a flu vaccination coordinator and/or team with defined roles and responsibilities. Determine if you will need to contract with an outside provider (like a pharmacy or community immunizer).

  • Schedule the flu vaccination clinic in the fall (which tends to be flu season) to maximize employee participation.

  • Provide accessible flu vaccination centers in as many business locations as possible. The more comfortable and convenient the location, the better - if your workspace is small, you could try reserving the conference room or a similar section of your office for this purpose.

  • Allow employees to get vaccinated during their normal work day.

  • Lead by example - have the top management get vaccinated first. This will motivate employees to follow suit and stay healthy.

  • Use incentives - offer vaccines free of cost or at lower rates than would be available elsewhere, provide refreshments at the clinic, or hold a contest for participation percentage among departments.

  • Spread awareness - promote the flu vaccination clinic with eye-catching posters, informational flyers and emails, or an article in the company newsletter or intranet.

  • Consider offering free vaccinations to participating employees’ families.

Educate Your Employees

Maybe a flu clinic isn’t within your budget just yet. Still, you can easily (and inexpensively) emphasize the importance of flu prevention by enforcing the following basic but helpful tips:

  1. Covering the nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing is more than just common courtesy; it prevents contagious viruses, like the flu and covid-19, from spreading and infecting others.

  2. Frequent hand-washing with soap or sanitizer is a simple but effective way to prevent germs from spreading.

  3. Avoiding contact with sick people should be a no-brainer - keep interactions with contagious individuals to a minimum.

  4. Urge employees to stay home when sick. If an employee is truly ill with the flu, allow them as many sick leaves as they’d need to get better before they return to the workplace.

It’s never too late to get a flu shot; minor discomfort trumps weeks of suffering. It’s safe, it’s worth it, and if nothing else, it’s good to know about it - just in case. If you and your team follow the above tips, you’ll be rewarded with a healthy, productive, flu-aware organization.

To find more ways to keep your insurance costs at bay, or to get resources and information on group health insurance concerns for small businesses, talk to the experts at NY Small Health today!

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