Worksite Wellness through Immunization

Adult Immunizations

Immunizations aren’t just for children and adolescents. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend:

  • Seasonal influenza (flu) (for all adults)
  • Tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (whooping cough) (for all adults who have not previously received the Tdap vaccine)
  • Shingles (for adults 60 years and older)
  • Pneumococcal disease (for adults 65 years and older and adults with specific health conditions)
  • Hepatitis B infection (for adults who have diabetes or are at risk for hepatitis B)
  • Travel immunizations (visit http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel to see what immunizations are recommended based on your destination)

Flu Vaccine for Worksite Wellness
The CDC recommends that everyone ages 6 months and older receive a flu vaccine each year. Annual seasonal flu vaccination with either the flu shot or the nasal-spray flu vaccine is the best way to reduce the chances that you will get the flu and lessen the chance that you will spread it to others. When more people get vaccinated against the flu, less flu illness can spread through the community.

What does the flu cost a company?
Catching the flu can lead to a great loss in productivity. In 2010, the flu accounted for:

  • 200 million days of diminished productivity
  • 100 million days of bed rest
  • 75 million days of work absences
  • 22 million visits to healthcare providers

The total economic burden of the flu in the United States is estimated at $87.1 billion dollars. The flu can also cost companies billions in lost productivity and direct medical costs. On average, vaccination against the flu can save $30 per vaccinated person.

How to build Workplace Wellness through Immunization
Immunizations are a proven public health intervention and can be implemented at your workplace on varying scales. The four steps of the workplace health model can guide program planning.

Step 1: Assessment

  • What are the risks, concerns, current programs, capacity and needs
  • What services are currently being used? Is there a need for an onsite immunization program?
  • Have employees received the flu vaccine the past season? If so, what percentage received it?

Step 2: Planning

  • What will the program address, what are the goals and how will they be met?
  • An example goal is to have a set percentage of employees be immunized
  • Gain support of management/leadership for the immunization program
  • Support from management/leadership helps cultivate a culture of worksite wellness and shows their interest in the employee’s health
  • What resources are available for an immunization program?
  • Do you have staff that can administer vaccines?
  • Can an outside organization be contracted to provide immunizations on-site?
  • Develop a communication plan to ensure all employees are aware of the immunization program
  • Use multiple channels such as e-mail and flyers
  • Include follow-up communication for progress toward goal and encourage participation if the employee has not been vaccinated yet

Step 3: Implementation

  • Provide education about the program
  • Promote your vaccination program
  • Provide educational information
  • Myths about flu vaccine (PDF)
  • Offer incentives for participation in the immunization program
  • Raffle for gift card
  • Meal for office with highest participation

Step 4: Evaluation

  • Review of merit (quality), worth (effectiveness), and significance (importance) of activity
  • Survey employees for feedback
  • Track outcomes from program
  • Increase in percentage of employees immunized
  • Number of sick days used during flu season

Resources for Workplace Wellness through Immunization
Although healthcare personnel (HCP) have been the focus of immunizations at the workplace in studies, immunizations for caregivers is just as important. Eleven states have legislation supporting influenza immunization for HCP and numerous hospitals and healthcare facilities have policies for influenza immunization.

Sample Documents for Worksite Adult Immunization Policy
The following can be used to implement your own worksite immunization policy focusing on influenza. These documents can be modified for other vaccines, such as Tdap, or to meet your business needs.

Additional Resources
Case Studies and Support Documents for Worksite Immunization Programs