The CDC's Task Force on Community Preventive Services calls for "interventions with onsite, reduced cost, and actively promoted influenza vaccinations, implemented alone or as part of a multi-component intervention, based on sufficient evidence of their effectiveness in increasing influenza vaccination coverage among workers in worksites."
Influenza can seriously impact your workplace—adversely affecting the lives of employees and taking its toll on productivity.
Much is at stake. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that, each year in the United States, approximately 5 - 20% of the population gets influenza (commonly known as the flu) and 226,000 people are hospitalized with flu-related complications.
Depending on disease severity of the viruses circulating during flu season, the annual number of deaths can range from a low of about 3,000 to a high of about 49,000 people. In fact, because every case of the flu can lead to serious complications, CDC has expanded its recommendations for annual influenza vaccination to everyone in the U.S. six months of age and older.
Prevention of the flu in the workplace is one example in which employers can take an active role in promoting the health of their workforce. Although 70% of the nation’s major employers hold annual influenza clinics, only about 15% of the population receive their flu immunization at non-traditional settings, such as the work place. That’s considerably lower than the 80% rate recommended for the general population by Healthy People 2020, an initiative of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that identifies the most significant objectives to keep the nation healthy.
The CDC estimates that influenza costs $6.2 billion in lost productivity, not to mention $10.4 billion in direct medical costs. Factoring in work absences and other variables, the total estimated economic burden is $87.1 billion.
Among adults 18-64 years of age, influenza causes the following each year:
200 million days of diminished productivity;
100 million days of bed disability;
75 million days of work absences; and
22 million visits to healthcare providers.
With so much evidence pointing to the value of influenza vaccination, why do participation rates in worksite programs continue to be so low? Many workers—some at the highest levels of management—are probably unaware of how important immunization can be to their health and the health of their business. Additionally, companies may not have the time or expertise to address how flu-related absenteeism and associated costs are affecting their business to show a return on investment (ROI) for immunization programs.
Employers must now step up their efforts to start an on-site flu immunization program or increase employee participation in an existing one. To provide employers with additional resources to accomplish this endeavor, Partnership for Prevention (Partnership) has developed this report, Give Productivity a Shot in the Arm: How Influenza Immunization Can Enhance Your Bottom Line. It presents the business case for worksite flu immunization programs; explains barriers to participation and effective approaches for overcoming those barriers; and lays out strategies and tools for establishing a program or strengthening an existing one.
Specifically, the report details the importance of engaging in long-range planning. This includes setting program goals, involving senior management, and developing a detailed communications strategy to educate employees about flu vaccination and dispel common myths.
In addition to long-range planning, evaluation is also crucial to establish or enhance a worksite flu program. Evaluation allows program managers to determine baseline utilization rates and set appropriate goals, as well as gauge the effectiveness and quality of the program.
One of the many benefits of a worksite flu program is overall cost savings, which can be shown through ROI calculation. Determining your ROI is a tailored process that takes into account the characteristics of your organization. Some objectives to measure include: rates of absenteeism, reduced productivity, direct health savings, and employee engagement. Determining your ROI can help create a sound business case for your worksite flu program.
Recent research and employers’ experience has led to the development of best practices for increasing participation in on-site flu immunization programs. These best practices emphasize the importance of convenience, education, communication, and providing incentives. Collaboration among departments and the involvement of senior management is vital to the success of the program. The case studies provided throughout this report illustrate how best practices are used in everyday settings.
Protecting the health and safety of employees, as well as safeguarding the company’s bottom line, are ample reasons to take advantage of the numerous resources provided in this report