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.
  • A minimum of two weeks booking time is recommended to secure availability.
  • 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.
  • Consider your over 65 workforce and encourage them to visit their GP to access the high dose flu vaccines free of charge. Sonic HealthPlus will not be able to provide the high dose vaccines within their onsite vaccination program.
Step 2: Booking
  • Make sure you read the Terms and Conditions carefully before you complete your booking.
  • For locations within the metro areas you can book your onsite and in clinic flu vaccination programs online. For multiple sites or rural and remote onsite vaccination programs, one of our flu coordinators will contact you to discuss your requirements and pricing options.
  • 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 completion of the service delivery a Flu coordinator will send you an invoice for your flu vaccination program.
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 onsite flu booking system enables your employees to book, view and/or edit appointments up to 24 hours prior.
  • Consent forms are linked to our website and booking confirmation improving work efficiencies for your coordinator.
  • Our website gives you access to electronic 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.
  • Nurses will arrive on site 15 minutes before first vaccination for set up and will remain 15 minutes after final vaccination for pack down and post vaccination care.
  • 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.
  • Ensure people being vaccinated have completed their consent for and bring a copy with them to give to the Nurse Immuniser.
  • 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 a booking on the day.
How Flu Affects Workplaces

Impact of Influenza in Australia and on the workplace
In Australia in 2017 to December 4, there were a total of 234 869 individuals who had laboratory confirmed Influenza. Influenza is easily transmitted through inhaling respiratory aerosols released when coughing or sneezing or by direct contact with respiratory secretions (think of keyboards and phones).

Then follows an incubation period of 1 to 3 days after which symptoms start. Initially people think they have a cold and continue to work on, thereby potentially spreading the illness to work colleagues.

In addition to absenteeism due to being unwell, which can be of several days if not weeks duration, it is recognized that influenza may cause weeks of feeling unwell and fatigued with resultant decrease in productivity.


Influenza vaccination
The influenza vaccine is currently the most effective measure available to prevent influenza.

In 2014 a vaccination that combated 4 different strains of influenza (a quadrivalent vaccine) became available as an option instead of the usual three strain (trivalent) vaccine. Due to the broader protection offered and based on the recommendation of the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI), Sonic HealthPlus offer the quadrivalent vaccine in the workplace flu immunization programme.

The Australian Influenza Vaccine Committee (AIVC) determines the components of the vaccine. AIVC meet to review all available data including WHO recommendations to determine the composition of the vaccine that will best protect Australians in the coming year. At their meeting on October 11 2017 they determined the components of the 2018 vaccine.

Health Authorities will determine the release of the 2018 vaccine in Australia but it is recommended that people ideally receive their vaccine prior to the winter “flu” season. However, the vaccine can be successfully administered any time that year to accommodate unexpected circumstances such as a worker being diagnosed with Influenza or a worker being required to travel overseas.

Influenza
Executive Summary
  • Influenza is a common disease with over 230 000 cases in Australia in 2017 to December 4.
  • Influenza causes significant symptoms and ill health and work absenteeism among healthy adults who are unwell or caring for others.
  • Influenza can cause significant disease and even death in vulnerable populations such as the elderly, babies, pregnant women and people whose immune system is suppressed.
  • The vaccination programme prevents disease in up to 70% of people who are vaccinated and as such reduces working days lost.
  • The vaccination programme reduces the pool of people who may get the disease, thereby reducing the risk that it may spread to vulnerable populations.
"The flu"

Particularly during winter, a common cause of sickness and time away from work is "the flu" with workers complaining of:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Generalised aching and fatigue
  • Respiratory symptoms–running nose, sore throat, cough

Many of these workers actually have a cold caused by any number of viruses. They will usually return to full work capacity within 1 to 3 days.

"The flu" caused by the influenza virus produces these symptoms but on a far more intense and prolonged scale – high fevers, intense headache, muscle pain, fatigue of the whole body and symptoms that last for several days or weeks. Most tragically, some people who catch influenza die despite the first world health services available in Australia. It is estimated that Consequently, public health services reduce the spread of influenza, particularly to people of vulnerable health by the use of an immunization programme.

The influenza virus

There are specific features of the Influenza virus that if understood are very useful in preparing an Influenza management plan for your company.

There are three categories of influenza virus, A, B, and C. The categories are based on different types of proteins or antigens. Influenza A and B have the potential to cause serious disease in humans.

The H and N antigen status of the virus is central in planning an immunization programme. Influenza virus has two types of glycoproteins (otherwise known as antigens) that sit on their outside surface and are an essential tool in enabling the virus to infect people. The H (haemagglutinin) glycoprotein attaches the virus to cells in the human body. Once attached the virus can penetrate the cell and get busy making new virus bodies. The N (neuraminidase) glycoprotein opens up the human cells to release the newly made virus bodies so that they can spread to other sites.

The H and N status is most important in Influenza A. These antigens change very slightly, a process called antigenic drift, over time. The influenza virus of 2017 is highly likely to be different from that of 2016 and that of 2018. This is why a yearly influenza vaccine that targets the antigens of that year is required.

Another feature of influenza is that there is both seasonal and pandemic influenza. Both types have similar symptoms but vary significantly in impact.

Seasonal Influenza may be defined as:
  • The usual yearly episodes of influenza occurring in or around winter,
  • Caused by slight changes in the glycoproteins on the virus such that the immune system does not recognize and destroy the virus before it causes infection.
  • May cause significant disease and even death but compared to Pandemic Influenza the number of cases, the intensity of the symptoms and the number of deaths are much less.
  • The number of cases can be greatly reduced by the use of the yearly immunization programme. The vaccination prevents disease in up to 70% of recipients.
Pandemic Influenza is a far more serious issue demonstrating:

Infrequent but not rare events with the last being in 2009 and three known episodes (in 1918, 1957 and 1968) occurring in the 20th century.

The result of significant changes in the Influenza A H and N antigens called antigenic shifts such that the virus looks like a new virus.

A risk of serious disease and death even in healthy adults.

Far more significant disease and a much higher death rate.

The need an entirely new vaccination to be developed so that there may be a lag time between the disease starting and being able to provide people with vaccine protection.

REFERENCES
1. Australian Government Dept. of Health (2017). The Australian Immunisation Handbook 10th ed. Retrieved from http://www.immunise.health.gov.au/internet/immunise/publishing.nsf/Content/Handbook10-home

2. Cohen, Y.Z., &Dolen, R. (2014). Influenza. In D. Kasper, A. Fauci, S. Hauser, D. Long D J. Jameson & J. Loscalzo (Eds) Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, (19ed Chap 24). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 2014. Retrieved from http://accessmedicine.mhmedical.com/content.aspx?bookid=1130&sectionid=79738663. Accessed December 16, 2017.

3. Immunisation Coalition (n.d.) Retrieved from http://www.immunisationcoalition.org.au/news-media/2017-statistics/

4. Influenza Specialist group (n.d.). retrieved from http://www.isg.org.au/index.php/

5. RACGP (2014). Managing Pandemic Influenza in General Practice Retrieved from https://www.racgp.org.au/your-practice/guidelines/flukit/

Frequently Asked Questions
How do you treat the flu?

The recommended treatment is rest, drinking plenty of fluids and use of paracetamol for the relief of pain and fever. You should see your local doctor if you are concerned about your symptoms or if your symptoms are getting worse. Antiviral medication may be prescribed by your doctor if you are at risk of complications from the flu. Antiviral medication needs to be started within 48 hours from the onset of flu symptoms. Antibiotics are not effective for treating the flu.

Your symptoms may include: Headache, muscle aches, rapid onset of fever, fatigue, sneezing, running nose, sore throat, and cough.

How do you prevent the flu?

Simple ways to control the spread of the flu is to get the annual flu vaccination and to practice good personal hygiene such as washing your hands, wiping over frequently touched surfaces with a cleaning cloth covered in detergent and covering your mouth when coughing or sneezing.

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.
Who should not get the flu vaccination?
  • If you have a severe infection with a high fever
  • If you have ever had Guillain-Barre Syndrome
  • If you are taking any of the following medications:
    • Warfarin (Coumardin, Marevan)
    • Theophylline Austin (Nuelin, Theo-due)
    • Phenytoin (Dilantin).
  • People who are severely allergic to chicken products such as eggs and feathers

Although no harm is done having the flu vaccination with these medications, it can sometimes increase the toxicity of your medications and therefore should be administered under the supervision of your regular doctor.

Will I catch the “flu” from the vaccine?

The vaccine is composed of inactivated or dead virus and so despite claims it does not actually cause the “flu”. However, it is understandable that lay people may be concerned about this risk as up to 10% of recipients may develop fever, fatigue and muscle aches. It is often worth reminding these people that their symptoms will last only a few days whereas if they caught influenza they would be unwell for far longer.

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 6 to 12 hours. As with any medication, very rarely you will have a severe allergic reaction that usually occurs within 15 minutes of receiving the vaccination. Due to this, it is important for you to wait for 15 minutes after receiving the vaccination before leaving.

Are there any serious reactions possible when having the vaccination?

As with all vaccinations and medication, there is the possibility of an anaphylactic reaction. These reactions are rare.

However for the safety of workers, Sonic HealthPlus recommend that the following people see their usual health professional to discuss their suitability for a vaccine:

  • Workers who have previously reacted to the vaccine
  • Workers with a history of anaphylaxis or a severe reaction to eggs or egg products.
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 an 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 Sonic HealthPlus administer my flu vaccination at my workplace?

The ATAGI recommends the vaccination for all pregnant women at any stage of pregnancy. We are happy to offer the vaccination but would recommend that the recipient lay down to reduce the risk of fainting.

Who will administer the flu vaccination?

At your workplace, the vaccination will be administered by a registered nurse who has current emergency procedure training in accordance with state and territory regulations.

What can I do after the vaccine?

10% of recipients may develop symptoms at the site of the injection – redness, pain, swelling. However, if the person feels otherwise well 20 minutes after the vaccination they can continue their usual work and recreational activities.

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 vouchers you may contact the National Flu Coordinator after your program to exchange onsite vouchers for in clinic vouchers.

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

No. Vouchers can only be redeemed at a Sonic HealthPlus or Travel Doctor-TMVC 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, or Travel Doctor-TMVC Clinic. Sonic HealthPlus has over 50 clinics across Australia and vouchers can be redeemed at any of these clinics before 31 August 2018. To find your nearest clinic click here.

Need to organise your workplace flu vaccinations this season?

We offer both in-clinic and onsite flu programs that are flexible and affordable. To talk to someone about organising your flu program this year contact us on:

1300 339 557
flu@sonichealthplus.com.au
sonichealthplus.com.au

Sources: Australian Government Department of Health, World Health Organisation, Australian Influenza

For terms and conditions, click here

Over 65s

The 2018 influenza season will be a challenging one with the introduction onto the flu vaccine market this year of a number of new influenza vaccines with varying age indications.

Fluzone High Dose™ and FluAd™ are both trivalent flu vaccines and will be available for the National Immunisation Program some time from mid-April. Fluzone High Dose™ has four times the active ingredient of other flu vaccines, and FluAd™ contains an adjuvant which has been proven to trigger an enhanced immune response in adults aged 65+ years. Both vaccines have been used overseas and have been found to trigger a stronger immune result.

Fluzone High Dose™ and FluAd™ trivalent vaccines will contain:

  • an A/Michigan/45/2015 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus;
  • an A/Singapore/INFIMH-16-0019/2016 (H3N2)-like virus; and
  • a B/Phuket/3073/2013-like virus.

Please refer to full product information for further safety information, contraindications and precautions for any of these influenza vaccines. For additional reading please see:

About new flu vaccines for over 65sGround-breaking flu vaccines for Aussies
1. How will the free over 65 vaccinations impact our onsite flu program?

Adults aged 65 years and over will be eligible to receive either of the 2 new free vaccines supplied by the government in the 2018 season. These work in different ways to the usual quadrivalent vaccine and their use is restricted to adults 65 years and older: FluZone High Dose (a high-dose version) or Fluad (with an additional ingredient to boost its effectiveness). Both vaccines will only be available through a GP clinic or at a pharmacy, not as an option with any onsite flu programs.

2. Are the new vaccines safe?

Yes both of these vaccines are safe. Side effects are mostly mild, very rarely causing serious adverse events. However the risks from the vaccine are less than from getting influenza infection. Most of the side effects are related to their immune stimulating effects and are slightly more common than with standard vaccines, such as a sore arm and, less commonly, a fever. Generally, these side effects are mild and don’t last long.

3. Will you be able to vaccinate our over 65’s at the same time?

Not with FluZone High Dose or Fluad as they will only be available for the 2018 season through the National Immunisation Program at GP clinics or in pharmacies. They could receive the quadrivalent vaccine as part of an onsite program however (see point 6).

4. Can we vaccinate all of our staff with the advanced immune boost vaccination?

No, both the FluZone High Dose and Fluad are recommended for use only in people aged 65 years and over.

5. We are on a remote work site and don’t have GP’s near us – how will our 65+ workforce get vaccinated?

They can still have a flu vaccine, but it will be the standard quadrivalent flu vaccine (i.e. not FluZone High Dose or Fluad), providing there are no other medical issues to preclude this.

6. Can over 65s get the regular vaccine if they choose?

Yes, however they must weigh up the evidence which has shown that the high-dose version better stimulates the immune system of older users to make protective antibodies. FluZone High Dose has also been shown to reduce rates of flu infection in over-65s compared to the standard vaccine and it seems to protect against pneumonia. Both of the vaccines for over 65s are not perfect – they simply reduce the risk of getting flu to a slightly greater effect than the standard vaccine. Like other flu vaccines, there is still the chance that the vaccine strains won’t match what’s circulating.

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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