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Workplace Flu Vaccinations

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The Importance of Workplace Flu Vaccinations

Workplace flu vaccinations are important every year, as influenza can seriously affect your workplace. Workers with influenza take an average of two weeks to recover. Because people can be contagious before any symptoms show, it is easy to spread influenza.

Influenza is not the same as a cold. Sadly 3,500 Australians die each year from the complications of influenza, including pneumonia. Therefore, it makes sense to protect your workforce.

Influenza can be Serious

The flu is a highly contagious viral infection that can cause severe illness and life-threatening complications, including pneumonia.

Influenza isn’t like the common cold, it can hit quickly and last for a few weeks, meaning time off work or school and staying away from family and friends. For vulnerable Australians, like young children, the elderly and people with a weakened immune system, the flu can have serious and devastating outcomes.

If you are around infants, pregnant women, older people or immunocompromised people while you have influenza, you are putting them at serious risk.

Each year the flu affects thousands of Australians and puts an enormous amount of pressure on our hospitals and health system. Over 3,500 avoidable deaths occur in Australia every year from complications of seasonal flu.

It takes an average of two weeks to recover from flu. That’s a long time for work and chores to pile up.

If you get the influenza vaccine, you can avoid:

  • spreading influenza to at-risk people
  • getting ill yourself
  • having to put your life on hold.

Influenza is Highly Contagious

Influenza spreads from person to person in almost invisible droplets from saliva, sneezes, coughs and runny noses. The flu virus can live on surfaces for two days and is spread when people touch them. Touching an object that is contaminated with influenza virus and then touching your own eyes, nose or mouth or touching someone else can spread influenza. People are usually contagious a few days before their symptoms begin, and for up to one week after symptoms start.

You need the influenza vaccine every year

The flu shot changes every year to match different strains of the flu that are circulating. Even if you had the flu shot last year, it’s important that you get it every year to make sure you’re protected for when flu season hits. People who are vaccinated against influenza every year are better protected than those who are not vaccinated.

Influenza viruses constantly evolve, with rapid changes in their characteristics.1 To provide continuing protection, annual vaccination with vaccine containing the most recent strains is necessary.

Because post-vaccination antibody titres have been shown to decline over the course of a year, immunisation guidelines recommend annual vaccination for optimal protection against influenza, even when the influenza vaccine strains are unchanged from season to season.2,3

You Can’t Get Influenza from the Influenza Vaccine

The flu shot is safe and effective and doesn’t contain any live virus, so it can’t give you the flu.

Some people may have had the experience of ‘flu-like symptoms’ with a previous flu shot. These may be mild reactions to the vaccine, or a different cold virus or (unluckily) they might have already been incubating flu when they got their shot. The vaccine gives protection about two weeks after the shot.

Some people who have had the vaccine may still get influenza, but their illness is usually much less severe.

There are many illnesses that can cause flu-like symptoms, and the influenza vaccine won’t protect against these. Because of this, it’s important to maintain other protective measures, including good hygiene.

Workplace Flu Vaccination is A Smart Investment

Influenza vaccination in the workplace can result in increased productivity, and reduced absenteeism among workers.4

Influenza vaccination programs for healthy working adults may represent a cost-effective strategy and may also result in an improved workplace environment.5

Research has shown that healthy employees vaccinated against flu take nearly half the number of sick days and have nearly half the number of doctor’s visits compared to unvaccinated workers.6

Holding a workplace flu vaccination clinic means staff do not need to take time off to visit their own GP. Jobfit’s annual workplace flu vaccination program commences early March, and our occupational health nurses vaccinate more than 7,000 Australian workers during March to June each year.

Can Your Business Afford The Flu? Request a Quote Now.

REFERENCES

1. World Health Organisation, International travel and health, Influenza. Found at: http://www.who.int/ith/vaccines/si_iAh1n1/en/index.html. (Accessed 12 Oct 2012).
2. NHMRC The Australian Immunisation Handbook 9th edition 2008.
3. MMWR Prevention and Control of Influenza with Vaccine: Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), 2011 60(33); 1128-1132.
4. NHMRC The Australian Immunisation Handbook 10th edition 2013, pg 256.
5. Cohen et al. J Occup Health Safety 2003;19(2):167-182.
6. Nichol et al. The effectiveness of vaccination against influenza in healthy, working adults. NEJM 1995;33:889-893. bioCSL (Australia) Pty Ltd, 45 Poplar Road, Parkville Vic 3052, Australia. ABN 66 120 398 067.

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