Preparing for the Flu During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Now more than ever, containing the spread of the flu in the workplace is imminent. On average, the flu causes U.S businesses approximately $10.4 billion each season, according to the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Additionally, the CDC believes it is likely that flu viruses and the virus that causes COVID-19 will be spreading at the same time, and so getting a flu vaccine will be more important than ever. 

Ensuring that employees continue to engage in their routine vaccinations during the COVID-19 pandemic is essential for protecting employees and communities from vaccine-preventable diseases and outbreaks, such as the flu. For the upcoming 2020 flu season, the flu shot will be instrumental in helping to reduce workplace absenteeism, and the overall impact of respiratory illness on the population that can lead to unnecessary medical visits and hospitalizations. While getting a flu vaccine will not protect against COVID-19, the flu vaccination has many other important benefits like reducing the risk of flu illness, hospitalization and death. Getting a flu vaccine this fall will not only reduce risk from flu but will also help to conserve potentially scarce health care resources. Typical flu season begins in October and peaks between December and February, so it’s a great time to start thinking about this! 

Two ways to keep your in-office and remote team safe:

1. If your team will be working remote this fall, or you prefer not to have an onsite clinic, you can work with a pharmacy (ie: Rite Aid, Duane Reed, CVS) to provide vouchers that employees can take to a location nearest them for vaccination on their own time. Employees can take the physical voucher to the pharmacy for their flu shot, and the pharmacy will process it through the employees insurance carrier. While an employee can visit any pharmacy that accepts their insurance, offering a flu voucher program provides employees with a physical voucher that can help to remind and encourage them to get their flu shot since there will be no onsite clinic. While many pharmacies will accept most insurance carriers, employers do have the option to sponsor flu shots for those employees who may be without coverage (part time employees, etc.), and the flu voucher is one way to ensure that the pharmacist bills the employer if that is the case.

2. Onsite clinics have changed in response to COVID-19 ( i.e.: safety protocols and minimum participation criteria). These changes vary depending on which pharmacy is being utilized. You can coordinate an onsite flu shot clinic with a pharmacy who will adhere to social distancing and work within the CDC guidelines to vaccinate your teams.  

Looking for Assistance?

Our friends at MBL Benefits will work with you to develop a flu shot campaign to engage employees and encourage them to visit their pharmacy for vaccination. You can contact them here.

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