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4 Easy Steps to Encourage Employees to Get Flu Vaccinations
The flu causes approximately 111 million lost workdays each year, making it a big problem for small business owners. And whats the best way to reduce the risk of an outbreak in your office? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), flu vaccinations are the single best way to protect against the flu, so you need to encourage your staff to get flu shots.
However, some employees may resist getting a flu shot because they are concerned about the cost, suspicious of flu vaccine effectiveness or just plain afraid of needles. Since you want everyone in your office to get vaccinated, keep their feelings in mind as you follow these steps for encouraging employees to take this healthy step.
1. Educate Employees
Some employees avoid vaccinations because they believe the myths circulating about flu vaccine effectiveness. For example, many believe that getting the shot will actually make you sick. According to the CDC, thats not true. The flu shot contains an inactive form of the influenza virus, so it cannot cause illness.
To further counter flu-vaccine myths, consider hiring a health educator to talk with employees about the benefits of the shot and dispel misunderstandings. This person could also ease anxiety for those employees who dont want to get vaccinated because they fear needles, explaining that the vaccine is also available as a nasal spray. If your employees know about this option, they may see it as a good alternative to getting a shot.
2. Address Cost Concerns
Cost is an important consideration for anyone who needs preventive care. Your employees will be more likely to get the flu vaccine if they can do so at a reasonable cost, so make sure they know about free or low-cost vaccination clinics in your area.
Also, let employees know that the Affordable Care Act requires most health plans to cover certain preventive services at no cost to members. The flu vaccine is just one of the preventive services covered. If your businesss health plan began after March 23, 2010, your employees should qualify for free vaccines, if administered by an in-network provider.
3. Sponsor On-Site Clinics
You could also consider offering free or low-cost vaccination clinics in your workplace. VaxAmerica is just one of the companies that offer on-site flu clinics for employers. The cost of a flu shot through VaxAmerica is approximately $26 per shot, though this cost may be reimbursed by your businesss health plan.
Providing an on-site clinic has at least one important benefit: Your employees wont have to miss work time to get their vaccinations elsewhere. You may also be able to increase vaccination rates if you set up an on-site clinic and offer incentives for getting the flu shot.
4. Create Policies that Make Vaccination Easy
If employees have to get their flu vaccinations elsewhere, create policies that make it easy for them to do so. Some medical offices dont have evening or weekend hours, so allow employees to take time off during the day without penalty to get their flu shots. Ask supervisors and managers to get their flu shots so they set good examples for employees.
Keep in mind that theres a chance some managers and employees wont want to get vaccinated because of religious beliefs or personal medical concerns. Coordinate your efforts with the human resources department, if you have one, to ensure no one's rights are compromised.
Keep Your Employees Healthy & Your Business Running
Educating employees about flu shots and making it easy for them to get vaccinated can save your company a lot of money. When employees are healthy, they maintain higher levels of productivity and are less likely to miss work due to illness.