Business Toolkit

Chances are that Patient Zero is in your building right now.

You know, Patient Zero: the first person in your organization to contract the flu. The one who will likely unknowingly give it to your customers and/or members of your staff.

The one who could even die, because flu can and does kill people, especially children.

In addition to the human cost, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that up to 111 million workdays are lost every year because of the flu (influenza) at an estimated $7 billion per year in sick days and lost productivity.

While the CDC recommends the flu vaccine as the best way to protect against the flu — and advises that everyone over the age of 6 months gets an annual flu vaccine — fewer than 40 percent of Nevadans actually get it. By encouraging your staff members to get a flu vaccine, you’re ensuring that they’re able to work and provide for their families, while also protecting your customers from potentially contracting the influenza virus.

The flu can also be highly dangerous to people in our community who are not able to get the flu vaccine, namely the very young, the immunocompromised and the very old.

Most healthy adults can infect others beginning one day before symptoms develop and up to 5 to 7 days after becoming sick. Some people, especially young children and people with weakened immune systems, might be able to infect others for an even longer time.

What steps should businesses take to prepare for flu season?

  • Employers and supervisors can lead by example, by getting vaccinated themselves and encouraging their staff to do the same.
  • Educate employees about flu vaccine through in-house communications tools like newsletters, emails or paycheck inserts. CDC formative research has shown that many people don’t understand the serious consequences that flu can have—they don’t perceive influenza as being serious, or they don’t want to get vaccinated because they have misperceptions about the vaccine itself. Sometimes just providing information can lower barriers to vaccination.
  • Offer access to vaccination on-site—either free or at cost—to employees. Research has shown that convenience and ease of access can increase the percentage of people who get the vaccine. These kinds of actions can encourage more employees to get vaccinated. 
  • Remind employees to take everyday preventive steps like staying home and away from others when sick, covering coughs and sneezes, and washing hands to reduce the spread of germs. Businesses can help employees interrupt the spread of flu through leave policies that encourage these behaviors.
  • Stock up! Are bathrooms stocked with the right soap and sanitizer? Are your janitorial crews equipped with wipes and other antibacterial cleaning tools to stop germs on the surface? And are your staff members given the right technology and access to work from home if they’re ill? Evaluating your supplies before flu season and stocking up where necessary can be the difference between a healthy, productive office and a sluggish, sickly staff.

Employees who travel should be aware that seasonal flu viruses circulate globally and the Southern Hemisphere flu season occurs during the U.S. summer months. So before traveling, employees should make sure they’ve received a seasonal flu vaccine and other recommended vaccines. While traveling they should try their best to stay away from sick people and take other everyday preventive actions.

Below is a virtual toolkit of materials for use within your organization:

Please give us a call or email if you have any additional questions. Thank you for your help keeping Nevada healthy!