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Don’t Let the Flu Get You

August is National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM), an annual event sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to highlight the importance of immunizations. Although there has been a lot of focus on COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters the past couple of years, it’s important not to forget other important vaccines. As part of NIAM, the CDC is promoting staying on track with routine vaccines like the flu vaccine.

With flu season fast approaching, it’s not too early to start planning for your fall flu clinic. Occupational health centers have already started reaching out about scheduling onsite flu clinics. These are typically held from mid-September through December. Holding flu clinics at your workplace can be a great way to encourage employees to get vaccinated!

According to the CDC, everyone 6 months and older should receive a yearly flu vaccine. A vaccine is needed each year because a person’s immune protection from vaccination declines over time, so an annual flu vaccine is important for optimal protection. In addition, because flu viruses are constantly changing, the composition of flu vaccines is reviewed annually, and vaccines are updated to protect against the viruses that data indicate will be most common during the upcoming flu season.

Based on information from the CDC, the flu vaccine prevents millions of illnesses and flu-related doctor’s visits each year. During 2019-2020, flu vaccination prevented an estimated 7.5 million influenza illnesses, 3.7 million influenza-associated medical visits, 105,000 influenza-associated hospitalizations, and 6,300 influenza-associated deaths.

Seasonal influenza also has the potential to have a significant financial impact in the workplace. The CDC Foundation estimated that the seasonal flu is responsible for the loss of close to 17 million workdays each flu season.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, influenza activity has been lower than what was seen before the pandemic. It’s thought that this is related in large part to COVID mitigation measures that were put in place such as mask mandates and social distancing. However, with COVID restrictions being loosened, the incidence of the flu is expected to increase in the 2022-2023 flu season, so getting vaccinated this year is important not only to protect you, but your family and co-workers as well.

For additional information, or for help coordinating your organization’s flu clinic with an occupational health provider, please email us at [email protected].

This blog was written by Beth Graham, Associate Director of Quality, Research, and Training at Safety Partners.

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