Flu is a common respiratory disease that affects many people every year. The most common way to contract the flu is at work when exposed to an infected colleague through coughs and sneezes, or indirect contact with a surface that has the flu virus. With the prevalence of flu in mind, a workplace flu vaccination strategy is important for all work sites.

Flu is a respiratory infection caused by the influenza virus. There are 4 virus types A, B, C, and D, of which types A and B present the highest level of public health risk. Flu symptoms include fever, dry cough, headache, muscle and joint pain, severe malaise, sore throat, and runny nose.

These symptoms usually last 2 weeks and disappear without needing medical treatment, but serious infections can lead to bronchitis, croup, pneumonia, ear infections, heart and organ damage, brain damage, and even death.

While you can catch the flu anywhere, the workplace presents a high risk exposure site due to the duration people spend in confined spaces shared with their colleagues. While a person who is infected with the flu virus might be asymptomatic, every time he or she coughs, sneezes, or touches their face, they spread the virus to others who come into contact with the droplets directly.

Surfaces such as table tops, computer keyboards and mouses, light switches, and shared appliances in the pantry can serve as vehicles for droplets. This is called indirect contact (Australian Department of Health, 2020).

According to the World Health Organization (2018), the most effective way to prevent the disease is vaccination on an annual basis. While the average flu infection will put an employee out of work for a few days, there is potential for a sick employee to infect others and put an entire team out of action. Vaccination can prevent workplace outbreaks of flu, decreasing costs due to drops in productivity and workforce absenteeism, and be part of a comprehensive workplace health and safety plan.

A workplace flu vaccination strategy can be delivered in multiple delivery models. This includes onsite, in-clinic, or providing flu vaccination vouchers to allow for the greatest flexibility. In addition, workplace learning programs raise awareness amongst employees, encouraging the prevention of flu in the workplace.

References

Australian Department of Health. (2020). Flu – influenza.

https://www.health.gov.au/health-topics/flu-influenza

World Health Organization. (2018). Influenza – Seasonal.

https://www.who.int/en/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/influenza-(seasonal)

Kate Rowan-Robinson
RN, BN, GradDipSexol, MACN

As a key member of the Clinical Governance Team leading our Nurses, Kate has also contributed to the wider nursing community through her work outside Sonic HealthPlus. Kate has had several articles published in the International Journal of Nursing Practice, Nursing Standard, British Journal of Community Nursing and Public Health Nursing.

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COVID-19 UPDATE: All persons attending a medical appointment at a Sonic HealthPlus clinic will be required to complete a COVID-19 Triage Assessment form. If you are not vaccinated or fully vaccinated, we will need to undertake a risk assessment, which may include Rapid Antigen Testing.

Please note: Patients who attend for their medical assessment presenting with flu-like symptoms or have recently travelled from a COVID hotspot may be turned away.

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