The Flu Causes 17 Million Employee Absences – Combating the Quiet Crisis

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Fever, sore throat, headache, aches and chills – these are a few symptoms of seasonal Influenza, otherwise known as the flu. The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by flu viruses and can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The Flu is different from the common cold and usually comes on suddenly.

The annual direct costs of the flu, such as hospital and doctor’s office visits, medications, of influenza (flu) in the United States are an estimated $4.6 billion. The flu causes U.S. employees to miss approximately 17 million workdays, at an estimated $7 billion a year in sick days and lost productivity.

The Centers for Disease Control estimates private manufacturers will supply as many as 163 million to 168 million doses of the flu vaccine for the 2018-2019 season.

Functioning with high absenteeism is a difficult task. Firestorm is conducting a no-fee webinar on November 15th to discuss how your organization can combat communicable illness resulting in high absenteeism. Register below.

For Schools – November 15th at 11 a.m. ET

For Businesses – November 15th at 2 p.m ET

Who should get vaccinated this season?

Everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccine every season. Vaccination to prevent influenza is particularly important for people who are at high risk of serious complications from influenza. See People at High Risk of Developing Flu-Related Complications for a full list of age and health factors that confer increased risk.

Flu vaccination has important benefits. It can reduce flu illnesses, doctors’ visits, and missed work and school due to flu, as well as prevent flu-related hospitalizations.

Different flu vaccines are approved for use in different groups of people. Factors that can determine a person’s suitability for vaccination, or vaccination with a particular vaccine, include a person’s age, health (current and past) and any relevant allergies.

Flu shots are approved for use in pregnant women and people with chronic health conditions.  There are flu shots that also are approved for use in people as young as 6 months of age and up.

CDC recommends use of any licensed, age-appropriate influenza vaccine during the 2018-2019 influenza season, including inactivated influenza vaccine [IIV], recombinant influenza vaccine [RIV], or live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV). No preference is expressed for any influenza vaccine over another. Both trivalent (three-component) and quadrivalent (four-component) flu vaccines will be available. Read more about the vaccinations here.

More information is available at Who Should Get Vaccinated Against Influenza.

Who Should Not Receive a Flu Shot:

  • People who cannot get a flu shot
    • Children younger than 6 months old
    • People with severe, life-threatening allergies to flu vaccine or any of its ingredients
  • People who should talk to their doctor before getting the flu shot
    • People who have an allergy to eggs or other vaccine ingredients
    • People who have ever had Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS)
    • People who are feeling ill

When should I get vaccinated?

CDC recommends that people get vaccinated by the end of October, if possible. Getting vaccinated later, however, can still be beneficial and vaccination should continue to be offered throughout the flu season, even into January or later. Children who need two doses of vaccine to be protected should start the vaccination process sooner. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against the flu.

Special Consideration Regarding Egg Allergy

People with egg allergies can receive any licensed, recommended age-appropriate influenza vaccine (IIV, RIV4, or LAIV4) that is otherwise appropriate. People who have severe egg allergies should be vaccinated in a medical setting and be supervised by a health care provider who is able to recognize and manage severe allergic reactions.

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