September 23, 2021


Why is fighting the flu important for every business and every employee? In addition to keeping your team healthy and working, flu season is once again colliding with the COVID-19 pandemic this year.

Business owners and leaders play a vital role in encouraging employees to get the flu vaccine. Here are 6 ways flu season impacts your employees:

1. Complications from the flu are major health risks

The number of infections, hospitalizations, and deaths resulting from the flu were unusually low last year. That’s likely related to COVID-19 and measures, such as masks and social distancing, becoming more common practices to prevent contagious respiratory illnesses.

However, severe cases are still possible. It’s not uncommon for people to underestimate just how sick you can get from the flu. In severe cases, the flu can lead to pneumonia, infections, hospitalization, or even death. People who are at higher risk of complications include those with chronic conditions at any age, not just seniors or young children.

2. Amplified COVID-19 risks continue to overburden our healthcare system

Experts say it’s safe to get both the flu and COVID-19 vaccines at the same time.

During a recent Path Forward Ask Me Anything event, Dr. Catherine O’Neal expanded on questions about this. She is the chief medical officer at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital and Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine at LSU. Watch here.

In addition, our healthcare system has been non-stop tested and pushed to the brink throughout this pandemic. It’s critical that we do everything we can to prevent people from needing urgent care, whether that’s because of the flu or COVID-19. Vaccines will keep people out of hospitals and save lives.

U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy spoke about this during our Path Forward series. Watch here for his comments on this and more business and COVID-19 topics.

3. Financial costs for businesses cannot be ignored

The flu is not cheap. Prevention is a smart investment for business that can help you save big.

American workers miss 111 million workdays a year because of the flu. Business leaders want to ensure workplace productivity and avoid more shutdowns to keep profits up, but it also costs American workers over $16 billion in lost earnings each year.

Furthermore, communities across the country see the ripple effects of flu season and the staggering costs to the U.S. economy of over $80 billion annually.

4. Childcare continues to be a major challenge for working parents

Your employees need to know that flu shots aren’t just about protecting you. It’s about protecting everyone around you too. The good news for working parents is that many children can get the flu vaccine. However, the COVID-19 vaccine still isn’t an option for many children who are back in school.

Keep in mind that working parents are still facing extreme challenges finding childcare support throughout the pandemic. Encouraging vaccines to keep their families healthy means one less thing to worry about. That’s one less scramble to find someone to take care of a child when a parent or child is sick.

5. Many employees face barriers to getting vaccinated

Be sure to also consider how your employees may feel discouraged from getting a vaccine, unable to find appointments nearby, or unsure of where to go. In fact, there are significant disparities among people of racial and ethnic minority groups who lag in vaccination rates.

Businesses can make a huge difference by providing vouchers, offering vaccination programs at the workplace, or even mandating vaccination.

6. Misinformation about the flu is everywhere

Do you know when flu season peaks? Do you know the differences between flu and COVID-19 systems? Do your employees know?

Flu season typically peaks between December and February but can last until May. Many of the symptoms overlap. One distinct difference is the loss of taste and smell in COVID-19 cases.

Chances are, this is a confusing topic for just about everyone. It doesn’t help that there are contradicting guidelines and recommendations published constantly. Make sure your business relies on reputable sources like the CDC for facts about the flu.

If you’re ready to join businesses across the country in leading the fight against the flu, download our guide today for more information on how to encourage your employees to get vaccinated.