To keep your workforce healthy—and working—it’s important to have an awareness of the vaccinations that may be available through your plan that can help protect them from common illnesses, such COVID-19.

Keep in mind that absenteeism may result, not only from an employee becoming sick, but from that person needing to take time to care for a sick family member—offering all the more reason to prevent COVID-19’s spread.


How it’s spread


The virus spreads through exposure to an infected person. Factors that influence the likelihood of spread include length of exposure, proximity to the infected person, ventilation, and use of masks.

So, it’s no wonder rates of illness go up when people gather in enclosed spaces in increasing numbers—as we tend to do during fall and winter months.


Predictions for this season’s severity


The CDC is not making predictions about this season’s anticipated severity, however you can monitor cases in your area through its COVID-19 County Check 


A new vaccine


Since 2021, COVID-19 vaccines had been available to the US public free of charge through the US government’s COVID-19 vaccination program. That’s changed. A new COVID-19 vaccine formulation launched in mid-September 2023. Now, health plans will fund the cost of the COVID-19 vaccine.

You may want to remind employees that, if they are members of your health plan, they can continue to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, and other seasonal vaccines like those for flu and RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus), at participating vaccine network pharmacies or doctors’ offices, in accordance with your plan. Conveniently, vaccinations are often given at local pharmacies, usually without an appointment—no doctor’s office visit necessary.


Who should get the vaccine


CDC’s independent panel of advisors recommends everyone 5 years and older should get one dose of the updated Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to protect against serious illness from COVID-19. CDC also states  younger children, 6 to 4 years old, need multiple doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to be up-to-date, which should include at least one dose of the updated COVID-19 vaccine.

The vaccine is effective at helping protect people from getting seriously ill, being hospitalized, and dying. But all vaccinations come with precautions, so employees should check with a healthcare provider, like a doctor or pharmacist, to see if the vaccine is right for them, or to see if they would benefit from early diagnostic testing, should they fall ill.

In addition, as employees plan their vaccinations for the season, pharmacists are happy to help them determine when and in what combination seasonal vaccines should be given.


Create a healthy workplace


Help create a healthy workplace by encouraging basic hygiene like washing hands frequently, coughing and sneezing into one’s elbow, emphasizing to your employees the importance of staying home and away from others when sick, and masking. Remind employees that according to the CDC, anyone infected with COVID-19 can spread it —even if they do not show symptoms—making the case for vaccination even stronger.


For more information


Information for this article was sourced from the CDC website: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( . Visit its COVID-19 web pages  to learn more.

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