To keep your workforce healthy—and working—it’s important to have an awareness of the flu vaccine, which may be available through your plan.
The influenza, or flu, virus spreads primarily through tiny droplets made when people with the illness cough, sneeze, or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby. Less frequently, the virus is spread when a person touches a surface that has flu virus on it and then their own mouth, nose, or eyes.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), autumn months are generally good times to be vaccinated against flu. Additional considerations should be made for people over age 65, pregnant women, and for people with certain chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes, or heart disease.
As with all vaccinations, determining the appropriateness of the specific vaccine and optimal timing to receive it should be determined by each person’s healthcare provider team—which may include a pharmacist.
The flu is not a bad cold
It only takes about two days from catching the flu virus to experiencing symptoms—more suddenly than with a cold. Those symptoms can include fever, chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, and fatigue. Healthcare providers can test people with symptoms to diagnose and treat appropriately. This is important because the flu may result in serious complications, like pneumonia, bacterial infections, hospitalizations—even death.
Who gets the flu?
Anyone can get the flu—even people who are usually very healthy. They may even experience complications from the illness. But some people are at higher risk than others. This includes people who are 65 and older, people of any age with certain chronic medical conditions, pregnant women, and children younger than five.
When can they spread it?
You can spread flu to someone else before you even know you are sick. People with flu are most contagious in the first three to four days after they get sick. But it can be spread from the day before symptoms develop and up to seven days after becoming sick.
Predictions for this season’s severity
On average, about 8 percent of us get sick from flu each season, according to a 2018 CDC study published in Clinical Infectious Diseases. To keep an eye on the prevalence of flu in your area and to staff accordingly, you may find the CDC's weekly update helpful.
Keep in mind that absenteeism may result, not just from an employee becoming sick, but from that person needing to take time to care for a sick family member—all the more reason to help prevent the flu’s spread.
Foster a healthy workplace
Measures you can take to foster good health in your workplace include encouraging basic hygiene like washing hands frequently, coughing and sneezing into one’s elbow, and emphasizing to your employees the importance of staying home and away from others when sick. You may also remind employees that they can spread viruses before they show signs of illness—making the case for vaccination even stronger.
Don’t forget to share with employees that flu vaccinations can very often be given at their local pharmacy, usually without an appointment—no doctor’s office visit necessary. In addition, pharmacists can help people decide if they should get the vaccine at the same time as other seasonal vaccinations—like those for COVID-19 and RSV.
For more information
Information for this article was sourced from the CDC’s comprehensive website: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (cdc.gov) . Consider visiting to further explore the topic of vaccinations..
This Vaccination Schedule is available in printable versions for posting and distributing. The site also contains more about the flu, specifically, including a “fun” quiz that is sure to make you the star of your company cafeteria.