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H1N1 (Swine Flu): Got Flu Shot Yet? If You Are Like Most Americans, the Answer Would Be No…The Question Is, Should You???

November 9, 2010

Most of us avoid needles, well…like the plague… Even so, flu shots are good for you.  What are some of the reasons you should roll up that sleeve this fall?  Consider this:

  • The U.S. government recommends all 330 million Americans get vaccinated.
  • In an average flu year, up to 20% of the U.S. population gets the flu.
  • Around 36,000 people die annually from the flu.

Despite these new CDC recommendations, only 37 percent of Americans surveyed by Consumer Reports say they will get the flu shot this year. (Another 31 percent are undecided.)

There are many good reasons to get a flu shot but what are the financial reasons?  There are three solid ones!

  • The Flu is bad for employee productivity. When workers are ill, the economy is sick. Sick workers may be good for companies who make cold products and tissues but it hurts productivity. The overall economic impact of the flu in the U.S. is $87.1 billion each year. According to the CDC, the flu indirectly costs your employer about $76.7 million, on average, in missed work and other indirect costs like healthcare.  According to one study, workers who fail to get vaccinated accounted for 45 percent of all days of illness during the period, 39 percent of all illness-related work days lost and 49 percent of all days with illness-related reduced on-the-job productivity. 
  • Employees miss work. There is no good data on the number of days the average worker misses due to the flu — it varies anywhere from one to 10 days, the CDC says. There are several reasons why it is so hard to quantify time missed from work due to the flu. Workers may stay at home to care for sick children, for example. And the virus affects everyone differently, some are knocked out for days, while others are better after a few days.
  • Flu shots are often free. Many companies offer free flu shots. According to a National Business Group on Health survey, 79 percent of employers that have consumer-driven health plans (also known as high-deductible plans) offer free flu shots, while 67 percent of employers with traditional health insurance benefits offer free flu shots to workers. If you need to pay for your shot, expect anywhere from $25 to $29 this flu season.

    It takes about two to four weeks for the full immune response of a flu shot to kick in. And while flu season officially begins in December, it’s not too late!

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