Workplace Flu Vaccinations

Who is Sonic HealthPlus?

Sonic HealthPlus is Australia’s leading provider of occupational health and general medicine services.

Why do you need workplace flu vaccinations?

The Flu is difficult to avoid. 1-in-6 people will get infected in an average year1. Vaccinated workers are likely to be off work for fewer days – if at all.

Workplace Flu Vaccinations

Who is Sonic HealthPlus?

Sonic HealthPlus is Australia’s leading provider of occupational health and general medicine services.

Why do you need workplace flu vaccinations?

The Flu is difficult to avoid. 1-in-6 people will get infected in an average year1. Vaccinated workers are likely to be off work for fewer days – if at all.

How It Works
Step 1: Preparation

So you’re thinking of booking a workplace flu vaccination program to fight the flu this year? Before you book your program there are a couple of things you need to consider.

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Step 2: Booking

Now that you are fully prepared, you can begin booking your vaccination program online. Be sure to read the terms and conditions first. Simply complete the form below.

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Step 3: Prepare Your Workplace

Next your flu coordinator will send you a link to your online booking portal which includes web links to our Flu Fighters resources pack to assist in your preparation to fight the flu in your workplace.

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Step 4: Flu Program Day

Lastly, have someone meet the nurse and escort them to the designated area where the nurse will vaccinate everyone.

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Step 1: Preparation

So you’re thinking of booking a workplace flu vaccination program to fight the flu this year? Before you book your program there are a couple of things you need to consider.

  • What kinds of vaccines will you purchase? In clinic or onsite.
  • Where will you host your onsite vaccine program? You need to ensure you have a suitable private area for the nurse to administer the vaccines and include a place for people to lie down if they are feeling faint.
  • How many do you need?
  • Need a Quote? We have a handy instant quote function on our website so you can price out what types and how many you need before purchasing.
Step 2: Booking
  • This year you will book your onsite and in clinic flu vaccination programs online.
  • Make sure you read the Terms and Conditions carefully before you complete your booking.
  • Once you have completed your booking, a booking confirmation will be emailed to your supplied email address.
  • One of our flu coordinators will be in touch to confirm your preferred booking time and date for your onsite program. On confirmation of details the Flu coordinator will then send you an invoice for your flu vaccination program.
  • For multiple site location bookings, one of our flu coordinators will contact you to discuss your requirements and pricing options.
Step 3: Prepare Your Workplace
  • It is very handy to have a dedicated coordinator in your workplace to be the central contact and champion the flu program in your workplace.
  • Next your flu coordinator will provide a link to your online booking portal to assist in your preparation to fight the flu in your workplace.
  • Our new onsite flu booking system enables your employees to book, view, edit and/or cancel appointments up to five (5) days prior.
  • Consent forms are linked to our new onsite flu booking system improving work efficiencies for your coordinator.
  • Your online portal will include consent forms, vaccine information, run sheet, fact sheets and promotional posters for you to promote your program internally.
  • Your flu coordinator will liaise with you to arrange any site-specific requirements in delivering your flu program such as site inductions etc.
  • Your online booking portal will send reminders to staff detailing the time, date and location of your flu program.
  • Remind staff to wear loose clothing so they can roll up their sleeves or remove their jackets.
  • Having one point of contact for this process will ensure things run much more smoothly on the day.
  • Send out a reminder to your team one day before, as well as on the day of your program.
Step 4: Flu Program Day
  • Have someone meet the nurse and escort them to the designated area.
  • Have a designated coordinator on the day that can assist the nurse with appointments and contact people who may be running late.
  • The nurse can vaccinate two people every five minutes; please bring people to the nurse in groups of five.
  • Make sure people can roll up their sleeves or remove their jackets.
  • Let your team know not to go anywhere outside of the workplace for 15 minutes after their vaccination.
  • A cup of tea and a glass of water is always appreciated by the nurse.
  • Remember the nurse will not be vaccinating anyone who does not have an approved consent form on the day.
How Flu Affects Workplaces

Flu hits a workplace in two ways, which makes it doubly hard to keep it at bay.

Firstly, there’s the all-too-familiar ‘absenteeism’, which results in days lost while either a worker recovers or they are off work caring for a partner, child, or aged relative. A NSW Chamber of Business-sponsored survey2 in 2012 calculated the cost of losing an employee to flu at around $1300 – without temp replacement costs.

Then there’s ‘presenteeism’ – showing up for work sick when you should be in bed – which is actually several times more costly to a business or organisation than ‘absenteeism’.

That’s because everyone loses: The infected worker shows up and gallantly ‘soldiers on’ only to pass on the virus to fellow workers. Meanwhile, their own productivity plummets.


The Cost of Flu to businesses

In 2014, the average annual cost of influenza to Australia was estimated to be $828-$884 million per year. Around 30% was due to indirect costs (working days lost), while 70% were direct costs, with 82% (around $500 million) due to hospitalisations.

Healthy workers aged 18 – 64 years have fewer complications from flu, although the worst of the symptoms can last 3 days on average and may take weeks to finally shake off.

But, there are an estimated 1.2 million seemingly healthy adults in the national workforce with serious underlying medical conditions – heart, lung, or kidney diseases, diabetes, or immune disorders – which put them in a higher-risk category for a more severe flu.

Given the ageing of the Australian workforce it’s not hard to make a compelling business case for flu vaccination in every workplace.

REFERENCES
1 – Influenza Specialist Group. About Influenza - http://www.isg.org.au/index.php/about-influenza/

2 – NSW Business Chamber (2012) Flu season could cost NSW businesses $482 million. Accessed 5.4.15 Available at: http://www.nswbusinesschamber.com.au/News-Media/Latest-News/Media-Releases-2012/Flu-season-could-cost-NSW-businesses-$482-million

Quadrivalent Influenza Vaccine

Influenza is a common and acute respiratory illness that is estimated to cause 1,400 deaths, 18,000 hospitalisations, and over 300,000 general practice consultations in Australia each season1. At 21 November, 2016, there had been a total of 86,240 laboratory confirmed notifications of influenza in Australia9. With this high infection rate, the Australian Government Department of Health Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) strongly recommends an influenza vaccination as the most important measure to prevent influenza and its subsequent complications2. Whilst the immunisation schedule for influenza is straightforward with one injection each season (typically at the beginning of autumn3), the strains of circulating influenza, the types of influenza vaccine available, and your individual risk is more complex.

The two subtypes of influenza virus (influenza A and influenza B) account for most influenza diseases amongst humans. Though the subtypes do not change from A and B, the strain (or lineage) of the disease varies from year to year. It is for this reason that annual vaccination is recommended due to the changing predominant strains that are circulating. The composition of the vaccine is determined each year by the Australian Influenza Vaccine Committee based on information and recommendations from the World Health Organization5 and is tailored to best protect against the predominant strains circulating at the time.

Historically, there have been three strains of influenza immunity within the Australian vaccine; two influenza A strains and one influenza B strain. Vaccinations prior to 2014 provided immunity against three strains from the A and B subtypes and is called a trivalent vaccine. However, in 2015 a four strain (quadrivalent) vaccine became registered for use in Australia which included immunity against an additional influenza B strain4. This additional vaccine was developed to provide broader protection against circulating flu viruses. The effectiveness of the influenza vaccine depends on the age and the immunocompetence of the recipient and the degree of similarity between the virus strains in the vaccine and those circulating in the community7. The two influenza B virus strains available in the quadrivalent vaccine are of different lineages, thus the trivalent vaccine will only protect for three out of four circulating virus strains while the quadrivalent will protect against all four. The quadrivalent vaccine increases human immunity against influenza and with recent research indicating substantial differences between influenza A and influenza B (the B strain in the trivalent vaccine being a mismatch 25% of the time6), the quadrivalent vaccine is now recommended by the ATAGI in preference over the trivalent. The 2015 influenza season saw both influenza A and B subtypes circulating. The proportion of all circulating influenza viruses attributable to the influenza B lineage that is not included in the TIV varies. This has ranged from 0% (in 2000 and 2001) to 32% in 20088. These statistics reinforce the recommendation for the quadrivalent vaccine against possible contraction of influenza.

The importance of the quadrivalent vaccine comes after the 2015 season saw a late recommendation from the World Health Organisation to include influenza B in the vaccine. The subsequent 2015 flu epidemic resulted with over 12,000 influenza cases up to August with influenza B being the dominant influenza type nationally7.

Sonic HealthPlus offers a national flu immunisation program available within our clinics and on-site at your workplace. With clear evidence suggesting the quadrivalent vaccine offers better protection against circulating strains, our 2017 flu program will consist only of the quadrivalent vaccine. This approach ensures we can assist your workforce by providing active immunisation against the strains of circulating influenza.

REFERENCES
1, 4 – Newall AT, Scuffham P, Hodgekinson B. Economic Report into the Cost of Influenza to the Australian Health System (March 2007): Influenza Specialist Group 2007.

2, 5, 7 – Australian Government Department of Health, Immunise Australia Program

3 – Government of South Australia. Flu vaccine frequently asked questions

6 – Epidemiological and virological characteristics of influenza B. PubMed

9 – ISG.org.au influenza activity surveillance

Frequently Asked Questions
Who should get the flu vaccination?

An annual flu vaccination is recommended for any person from six months of age who wishes to reduce the chance of being ill with the flu. For anyone in a high-risk category, the flu can be a serious and potentially fatal illness. The National Health and Medical Research Council recommend annual vaccinations for people with:

  • Heart conditions
  • Severe asthma
  • Lung conditions
  • Diabetes
  • Kidney problems
  • Impaired immunity
  • Malignant cancers
  • Pregnant women
  • Chronic neurological disorders.
Are you able to get the flu shot if you are feeling unwell?

The nurse will discuss your symptoms with you on the day and vaccinate at their discretion.

Are there any side effects from the flu vaccination?

Like any medication, some people may experience an unexpected reaction to the flu vaccination. Common side effects include:

  • Pain, redness and swelling at the injection site
  • Low-grade temperature
  • Headache or muscle aches
  • Drowsiness or tiredness
  • Generally feeling unwell
  • A temporary small lump at the injection site.

Most side effects are minor, last a short time, resolve without any treatment and do not lead to any long-term problems. Generally, mild reactions begin within six to 12 hours. As with any medication, very rarely will you have a severe allergic reaction that will usually occur within 15 minutes of receiving the vaccination. Due to this, it is important for you to wait for 15 minutes after receiving it before leaving.

Is the flu vaccination safe for pregnant women?

Yes. The flu vaccination can be safely given during any stage of pregnancy. Pregnant women are at increased risk of severe disease or complications from the flu. Vaccinating against the flu during pregnancy can not only protect pregnant women but provide ongoing protection to a newborn baby for the first six months after birth.

If I’m pregnant, can you administer my flu vaccination at my workplace?

No. We will not administer flu vaccinations to pregnant women in the workplace as we believe this should be administered by a family doctor or obstetrician to ensure continuity of care.

Once we have confirmed our onsite vaccination program, are we able to change the date?

Our national flu program is very popular and is generally booked out months in advance. Changing the confirmed date of your onsite vaccination programme is at the discretion of the National Flu Coordinator based on scheduling and resourcing. Programs will not be rescheduled under a week out.

What happens if someone is sick or away on the day of our onsite vaccinations?

If you have purchased onsite Quadrivalent vouchers you may contact the National Flu Coordinator after your program to exchange onsite Quadrivalent vouchers for in clinic Quadrivalent vouchers. You will not be able to exchange Trivalent vouchers.

Can I take my in clinic voucher to my personal doctor?

No. Vouchers can only be redeemed at a Sonic HealthPlus Clinic.

I don’t live near a Sonic HealthPlus Clinic, how do I redeem my in clinic voucher.

Vouchers can only be redeemed at a Sonic HealthPlus Clinic. Sonic HealthPlus has over 50 clinics across Australia and vouchers can be redeemed at any of these clinics before 30 August 2016. To find your nearest clinic click Here.

Sonic HealthPlus has provided onsite flu vaccines annually to our QLD and VIC employees and we have found the service very easy from booking thoughout to delivery. The added benefit of up to date information and resources on viruses as well as the latest vaccines is very useful for delivering this information to our employees.
Nuplex Industries (Aust) Pty Limited

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