Nobody wants to get the flu, but every year, about 50 million people do. In the flu epidemic of 1918, 50 million people died of flu-related complications. Flu is not only a dangerous, debilitating disease, it costs businesses billions of dollars in lost productivity.
There is no foolproof way to guarantee that your employees will not get the flu, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta recommends a flu shot. These vaccinations provide protection against the top three strains of the flu for the coming year. This year's shot will protect those who get it from the H1N1 virus as well as two other of the most common types.
While some of your employees will no doubt take the initiative to get a flu shot on their own, many will not. A great way to encourage your employees to get a flu shot is to host an onsite flu vaccination clinic.
Promote the flu clinic with an all-out campaign by placing posters around your facility. If your company has an intranet site or newsletter, make sure the flu clinic is mentioned prominently. Have a company executive send out a company-wide email announcing the flu clinic. It's a great idea if you make it a business goal to get employees vaccinated against the flu.
The CDC offers a toolkit containing posters and information for businesses and employers who choose to host an onsite flu vaccination clinic. This kit includes some of those promotional items.
Here are some more tips to make your flu clinic successful:
- Get managers and other leaders vaccinated first to set an example.
- Offer incentives. Here are some ideas:
- Give the shot free or at very low cost. (Balance the cost of the vaccine against how much you would lose if that employee got the flu.)
- Extend the offer to the families of the employee for free or at low cost.
- Allow employees to get their shots during working hours without having to punch out.
- Hold a contest and offer prizes to the department with the highest participation.
- Provide simple refreshments at the clinic.
- Set up a comfortable and convenient location for the clinic.
- Make sure the clinic is as convenient as possible for employees.
When you consider the contagious nature of the flu, you can see that every one of your employees protected against it can help to ensure the health of your whole workforce.
While hosting a flu vaccination clinic may seem like a benevolent thing to do for your employees, it is also a very smart business practice. If you can reduce the number of your employees who contract influenza this year you will probably reduce your costs in absenteeism and medical costs. After all, how much of the $10.4 billion pie do you really want to pay for?
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