Firestorm Flu View – Improve Your Odds of Staying Healthy

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“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”  -Benjamin Franklin (around 1735). It is usually better to stop something bad from happening than it is to deal with it after it has happened. After almost 300 years, these words remain a good practice to live by, and is a practice on which Firestorm bases its PREDICT.PLAN.PERFORM.® process.

An annual flu vaccine remains an extremely valuable way to improve your odds of staying healthy through the winter flu season. According to the CDC, we are currently in a time of higher incidence of flu disease than expected.  Each year, around February, experts from the CDC gather to recommend the influenza virus strains to include in that year’s flu vaccine. The vaccine represents the best guess of the strains they predict will be present in the United States during the next flu season. This year, one of the strains included in the vaccine has mutated more than expected and the vaccine is less effective against this strain. However, the vaccine continues to provide good protection against two of the three included virus strains. The manufacture of the vaccine is complicated, and in the best of circumstances takes about four months, so it is now too late to remake the vaccine. This virus drift and mutations are making this year’s vaccine only about 23 percent effective in preventing the disease, as opposed to the 51 percent effectiveness last year.

What is the status of influenza disease this year?

FluView Graph
 
For the state of Maryland, the 2nd graph on the page shows emergency room visits for influenza symptoms this year compared to recent years.

The influenza outbreaks this year are country wide and at a higher rate than the past few years.
When you first begin experiencing flu like symptoms one treatment is available. Oseltamivir (Tamiflu®) remains a viable treatment option, but must be started within two days of the very first onset of symptoms. Data shows that oseltamivir might reduce the duration of the influenza disease by one day. The medication is available by prescription only and costs around $155.00 for a five-day course of treatment for a patient without insurance. One decision point might be considering whether this cost is ultimately worth reducing the duration of illness by one day.  However, oseltamivir remains in very short supply in the marketplace so its lack of availability in your local pharmacy may prevent you from using it. By contrast, the preventative retail cost of a flu vaccine shot is around $35.00

Does your company have a communicable illness plan? Unlike the disasters for which most companies are prepared, a pandemic will not primarily affect equipment and facilities, but rather the people companies depend on to produce products and services. Additionally, the current assumptions about a pandemic’s duration push the boundaries of most existing absence-from-work policies. Therefore, any company must thoroughly examine its human resource management practices and policies in order to refine and/or implement policies that address the long timeline of a pandemic event. ‘Every Crisis is a Human Crisis.’

PREDICT. PLAN. PERFORM.® the Firestorm founding process, can help you predict your business’ vulnerabilities, plan strategies to manage the crisis before it occurs and perform through prepared protocols to ensure your business thrives through a crisis rather than succumbing. This year’s influenza outbreak may have already affected your business, but you can prevent similar consequences next year. Allow us the opportunity to show you what we can do for you.

 

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