With the recent COVID-19 crisis, it’s easy to forget that it is certainly not the only virus that we’re being exposed to. While there is no vaccination for COVID-19 yet, there is a vaccination for influenza: the common flu shot. As companies search for ways to combat the challenges created by COVID-19, an easy solution is to protect employees in ways that are already established.
How do the flu and COVID-19 interact?
On average the flu, which is very different than a cold, kills an estimated 3,500 Australians each year from complications such as pneumonia and severe dehydration. The seasonal flu, when it is complicated, can bring risks such as shortness of breath, secondary complications, and COPD with asthma exacerbation. COVID-19 brings complications of severe respiratory issues that can often come on extremely quickly.
Both COVID-19 and the flu have immune suppression qualities, therefore getting the flu vaccine is necessary. Exposing oneself to both COVID-19 and the flu at the same time can weaken the immune system even further and be incredibly dangerous. There is currently limited information on how the two diseases can interact within the body. However, it is assumed that the two viruses compound the existing symptoms.
How is the flu prevented?
In short, the flu can potentially be prevented by the flu shot. Each year, scientists’ study which strains of influenza are likeliest to hit the public. From these findings, annual flu shot vaccinations are developed to prevent the flu. Herd immunity is one of the reasons that the flu does not overwhelm a population. At this time, there is currently not enough evidence regarding the potential for herd immunity against COVID-19. This herd immunity is based predominantly on the fact that people vaccinate against the flu.
Being exposed to the flu vaccine in the form of the flu shot does not mean that person is a carrier of the flu. It results in developing of antibodies in case they are exposed to the virus. When a large collection of people receives the flu shot, it potentially reduces the likelihood of non-vaccinated people becoming sick as well.
While getting the flu shot does not reduce the chance of getting COVID-19, it promotes health and well-being. Moreover, it potentially prevents the likelihood of contracting another virus that can have adverse health effects. It is important for individuals to remain as healthy as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic. In other words, a healthy immune system is likelier to fight off another virus such as COVID-19.
Additionally, the flu flourishes in colder months hence the reason the virus prefers winter months, but scientists are yet to discover how temperatures and weather affect the COVID-19 virus.
Is the workplace the right place to offer flu shots?
By providing an entire workplace the opportunity to get the flu shot, it will greatly reduce the likelihood of employees being exposed to the flu. Subsequently, the workplace flu vaccination program can have substantial positive effects.
Influenza vaccination in the workplace can result in increased productivity, and reduced absenteeism among workers. Research has shown that healthy employees vaccinated against flu take nearly half the number of sick days. What’s more, they have nearly half the number of doctor’s visits compared to un-vaccinated workers.
If you have not yet received a flu vaccine this year, it’s not too late. You can vaccinate yourself against the upcoming flu season until June to protect yourself and your staff. If you’re an employer, consider protecting your staff by offering flu vaccinations at your workplace. If you’re interested in setting up a workplace flu vaccination program, consider checking out the workplace flu vaccination service offered by Jobfit.
As Australia continues to battle COVID-19, the healthcare industry is also being strained. Rather than adding more strain to hospitals and clinics, use occupational health services already in place. Consider offering the flu shot in your workplace.