By Heidi Parker, Executive Director, Immunize Nevada
Perhaps never before in recent history has health been so clearly in focus. And as employers have learned from the COVID-19 pandemic, it pays to protect employee health. While this is simply the right thing to do, it is also fiscally responsible. Employees who get sick may have to miss work, but allowing that will reduce the risk of them infecting other employees or customers. Stopping the spread of disease can therefore ease the burden on business.
And now we have the additional challenge of navigating business amidst yet another health crisis: flu season. Many of the symptoms for flu and COVID-19 are similar, and both could mean hospitalization or death. While there isn’t currently a vaccine for COVID-19, there is one for the flu — one that millions of Americans have received for more than 50 years.
Research shows that people who get the flu vaccine are less likely to get the flu, be hospitalized or even die. More people getting their flu vaccine translates to less illness and fewer people using medical resources that are needed for COVID-19 patients. And the cost of flu to businesses is staggering: This 2019 study estimates a $17 billion price tag in lost productivity from flu alone.
All of this underscores the importance of encouraging employees to get a flu vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that everyone 6 months and older get their flu vaccine by the end of October — by Nevada Day, for easy reference. In addition to reminding employees about the importance of flu vaccine, employers can also host their own vaccination clinics for employees and families.
Flu vaccine can be obtained from healthcare professionals, community clinics, health departments, retail stores, pharmacies and student health centers; search vaccination locations here. Clinics will look different this year because of pandemic guidelines, so it’s important to plan ahead. And everyone can Text “ProtectNV” to 47177 for flu vaccine reminders and updates about local vaccine availability.
This year more than ever, we need to do our part to prevent the spread of flu by getting a flu vaccine — which protects you, your loved ones, your business, your employees and our community. For more information on the flu and flu vaccine, visit https://immunizenevada.org/flu