Central to the effort is the company’s reprise of its highly successful National Flu Prevention Week from Oct. 23-29. During this time, flu vaccinations will be offered at little or no cost to new and existing patients visiting AFC clinics.
The World Health Organization estimates influenza is responsible for between 3 million to 5 million cases of severe illness and 250,000 to 500,000 deaths globally each year. However, in the wake of AFC’s efforts to promote flu shots and reduce the spread of influenza in the workplace during the 2016–2017 season, overall influenza activity in the U.S. was only moderate. Medical experts agree that the key to improving upon last year’s moderate flu season is vaccination.
“With more than 180 medical centers across the U.S. seeing 3 million patients a year, AFC deals with the flu as much or more than any other health care provider outside of the federal government, so we understand the impact it can have on people and their families,” said Dr. Jeremy Allen with American Family Care. “As one of the leading providers of occupational medicine in the U.S., we also understand the effect the flu has on businesses and the economy overall.”
Flu prevention help for employers
AFC’s National Flu Prevention Week was designed to provide individuals and businesses with guidance beyond the need to be vaccinated. In addition to providing low-cost or no-cost flu shots at their clinics, AFC also established guidelines for employers to mitigate the risk of flu in the workplace. Indeed, according to researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 5 percent to 20 percent of the U.S. population gets the flu each year, and tens of thousands are hospitalized and thousands die from flu-related illness. As a result, up to 111 million workdays are lost because of influenza – at an estimated cost of $7 billion per year in sick days and lost productivity.
To assist in deploying flu prevention measures in the workplace, AFC has established a hotline specifically for employers interested in curtailing the spread of colds and flu in the weeks and months ahead. Employers seeking help may call 205-421-2148 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. While supplies last, AFC is also making available workplace readiness kits, which contain items essential to reducing the spread of the influenza virus. The kits include:
• Paper towels: Recent studies show 12 percent of surfaces that looked clean were heavily contaminated, mainly because sponges and cleaning cloths were full of bacteria from a previous wipe-up. Discarding sponges and using paper towels can help keep surfaces germ-free.
• Clorox Healthcare hydrogen peroxide disinfectant spray: Especially during the cold and flu season, cleaning crews should use this spray to treat doorknobs, handles, light switches, phones, computer mice, railings, elevator buttons and escalator rails. Viruses can live up to 48 hours on plastic and stainless steel surfaces.
• Hand Sanitizer: Studies find that microbes can be transferred from workers’ hands to keyboards, phones and desks. This means that these surfaces may harbor 400 times more germs than the average toilet seat – because they’re rarely cleaned.
• Pens galore: Employees should have their own stockpile of pens they don’t share with colleagues. Pens carry a ton of germs that are easily transferred when shared.
• Hand sanitizer wipes: Employees should have a pack on their desks, whether to clean their hands or public surfaces.
• Flu prevention checklist: Lastly, in addition to the items contained the kit, AFC has also developed a flu prevention checklist for distribution to individual employees, so they can be more knowledgeable themselves.
Employers can play an important role in preventing flu, helping to protect employees’ health and reducing losses in productivity and revenue.
“The flu takes a devastating toll on our nation’s workforce,” said Allen. “Employers should make sure they give workers time to go get their flu vaccination and step up the cleaning and disinfecting of their facilities to keep the workplace as germ free as possible.”
For more information on National Flu Prevention Week and how to get flu vaccinations at little or no cost at participating AFC clinics, visit nationalflupreventionweek.com.