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Seasonal and Pandemic Flu

Plan ahead to protect workers and keep operations going smoothly when flu strikes.

Seasonal flu

Each year, flu vaccines are developed to protect against the three virus strains predicted to be most prevalent during the season, based on international flu surveillance and scientific estimation.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, this is the best protection against the flu, and the sooner you get vaccinated the better because it takes two weeks for flu-fighting antibodies to develop.

Here are three important steps to help protect your workforce against flu this season:

  • Email our Occupational Health team to schedule an on-site clinic.
  • Communicate a flexible sick leave policy so workers won’t be tempted to come in with the flu and infect others.
  • Advise sick employees to stay home until they are fever-free for 24 hours without medication; a person can infect others up to seven days after getting sick so take extra precautions to minimize exposure between sick and healthy employees.

Pandemic flu

When a new virus strain emerges for which there is little immunity, a flu pandemic can occur, causing widespread and serious illness. Currently there is no flu pandemic, but it’s important to understand what could happen and what should be done to prepare.

How business could be affected:

  • Absenteeism – Up to 40 percent of the workforce could be affected, and employees may be asked to fill in for work they’re not adequately trained to carry through.
  • Interrupted supply and delivery – Shipments from affected areas may be delayed or cancelled.
  • Changing patterns of commerce – Demand for infection-related goods will increase, and consumers may prefer to have items shipped and delivered or want to shop unconventional hours to avoid contact with others.

How to get started in planning:

  • Review federal, state and local health department pandemic flu plans.
  • Prepare for operations to continue with a reduced workforce.
  • Cross-train in areas critical to your business.
  • Stockpile items like soaps and sanitizers.
  • Consider work-from-home practices and policies.

For more information about pandemic flu planning, visit the CDC’s flu website or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration website.

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