Sonic HealthPlus is Australia’s leading provider of occupational health and general medicine services.
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.
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.
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.
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
The choice looks simple enough: the familiar 3-strain ‘trivalent’ influenza vaccine or the new 4-strain quadrivalent version?
The traditional trivalent injectable vaccine (TIV) vaccine should again be effective against the three principal flu strains predicted for 2016 – A(H1N1), A(H3N2), and B/ Brisbane. It’s also cheaper. Several trivalent products will be available in Australia from early March, a month earlier than the two imported 4-strain or ‘quadrivalent’ vaccines.
Fluarix Tetra and the privately-available FluQuadri Adult will contain the trio of strains mentioned above, plus B/Phuket. In most years, B strains account for the fewest flu cases than the A strains. This was not the case last winter. The final national Influenza Surveillance Report1 published in December described the 2015 flu season as ‘characterised by the predominant circulation of influenza B’. B/Yamagata lineage viruses and B/Victoria accounted for 62% of all lab-confirmed cases’ of influenza.
The report also noted that emergency department visits were about average and ICU admissions were slightly down, with a similar proportion of A- and B-strain infections.
Will 2016 be a repeat of 2015? Seasonal flu is so unpredictable that even the experts don’t know which strains will eventually come to the fore during the winter flu season, which is what makes deciding on the vaccine formulation such a challenge.
The four-strain vaccine is certainly worth considering for those who are more susceptible to severe flu infection – young children, elderly and anyone with underlying medical conditions.
Corporate travellers are also more likely to have greater exposure to flu strains that are already circulating, as well as to new strains that could emerge outside Australia. It is therefore worthwhile considering four strain vaccinations for employees that are travelling regularly, including domestic travel.
1 – Australian Influenza Surveillance Report and Activity Updates http://www.health.gov.au/flureport#current
PI for FluarixTetra: http://au.gsk.com/media/275731/fluarix-tetra_cmi_au_003_approved.pdf
CI for FluQuadri: http://www.guildlink.com.au/gc/ws/sw/cmi.cfm?product=swcfluqu11215
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:
The nurse will discuss your symptoms with you on the day and vaccinate at their discretion.
Like any medication, some people may experience an unexpected reaction to the flu vaccination. Common side effects include:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
If your employer has purchased in clinic tri vouchers you may be able to upgrade this to a quad voucher in clinic. This will be at the discretion of the clinic manager and will need to be discussed when you book your appointment to redeem your vouchers.
No. Vouchers can only be redeemed at a Sonic HealthPlus Clinic.
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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