Who does flu vaccinations

Flu vaccinations for businesses This is how your employees stay healthy

When a new virus breaks out, panic quickly ensues. It was exactly the same when the first reports about the novel corona virus circulated in the media at the beginning of the year. Of course, the death toll is terrifying, but according to experts, you don't have to panic in Germany. A far greater danger that is often underestimated, on the other hand, is flu waves, which claim fatalities every year. So let's take a closer look at the whole thing at this point.

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What kind of illness is the flu?

The flu, also called influenza, is an infectious disease. The flu must be clearly differentiated from a cold or an ordinary flu-like infection, as the symptoms of influenza are much more serious. When someone catches the flu, they struggle with fatigue, a dry cough, and a high fever.

How is the flu spread?

In the case of flu, infection occurs via droplet infection. This means that the influenza viruses can get from person to person by speaking, coughing, sneezing, but also by kissing or shaking hands. It only takes a small amount of the fine liquid particles to become infected. Sick people are highly contagious: This applies to the day before the first symptoms appear and for a period of up to seven days afterwards.

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What makes the flu so dangerous?

As I said at the beginning, the flu is a serious illness. The problem: the viruses multiply very quickly and damage the mucous membranes of the airways. This weakens our body's defenses and makes the body vulnerable to life-threatening diseases such as pneumonia. Thousands of Germans suffer from the flu epidemic every year, and many even die from it. The flu wave was particularly severe in the winter months between 2017 and 2018. At that time, the flu was fatal to around 25,000 people, according to an estimate by the RKI. Surveys by the RKI even suggest that a serious flu wave can reduce life expectancy. Between 2018 and 2019, the flu epidemic was quite harmless in comparison. Nevertheless, 18,000 people had to be hospitalized for influenza.

Who is particularly at risk?

In principle, of course, we are all exposed to the risk of contracting sick people. However, there are some groups of people who are particularly at risk and should protect themselves from the flu. This includes:

  • the elderly, as the immune system does not work as well as they get older
  • People who suffer from chronic diseases. These include diabetes, anemia, kidney disease, and diseases of the cardiovascular system
  • Residents and employees in care facilities and old people's homes, as the pathogens can spread well here
  • Babies and toddlers in whom the immune system is not yet fully functional
  • People whose immune system is already weakened. The reason for this can, for example, be ongoing chemotherapy

In addition, those who are often in contact with people through their job are also at a particular risk of infection. This applies, for example, to employees in the medical sector, in supermarkets or at authorities.

How can you protect yourself from infection?

As an employer in a company, you probably also know that one employee after another gets sick in winter. It's annoying with a cold, and with the flu it can even be really dangerous, as we have found out. So the question of effective flu protection is all the more important.

On the one hand, there are certain hygiene measures that your employees should know and adhere to. On the one hand, there is the so-called cold etiquette. If you have to sneeze, you should do it in the sleeve of your garment and not in your hands. In addition, all employees should wash their hands regularly, especially if shaking hands is part of the company greeting. In addition, hand disinfectants should also be used. Another tip for everyday office life: regular ventilation ensures that viruses and bacteria get outside.

However, since people with the flu are highly contagious, there is only one effective protection that can be achieved, and that is a vaccination against seasonal flu. After the vaccine is given, it takes one to two weeks for the body to protect itself against the flu. In order for the vaccination to work, it should therefore be given before the start of the “flu season”, that is between October and November.

How long is a flu shot effective?

According to the Robert Koch Institute, detailed information on the protective effect of the vaccine can be found on the respective preparations. The protection is usually given for a period of six months to a year. For adults, it is sufficient to get a flu vaccination once a year. In the next flu season, however, it will be necessary to get a new flu shot. That's because the viruses that cause the flu outbreak are very versatile. With a new reproduction cycle, the properties of the pathogen change. The vaccine must be adapted to these new circumstances.

What side effects can I get with a flu shot?

As with any other vaccination, this protective measure can lead to a physical reaction. This can show up in the form of redness, slight pain and swelling around the vaccination site. In addition, cold-like symptoms such as fever, tiredness, headache and body aches can occur, but these quickly subside. All in all, the flu vaccine is considered to be well tolerated.

Who is the vaccination not suitable for?

Even if the influenza vaccination is tolerated without any problems in most cases, there are some people who would be better off avoiding the vaccination. This applies to the following cases:

  • Those who are allergic to chicken protein cannot tolerate the vaccination, as the basic substance consists of fertilized chicken eggs
  • Patients who are sick and have a fever must postpone their vaccination appointment and get it as soon as possible

What does a flu vaccination cost for my employees?

An upcoming vaccination should always be discussed with the responsible doctor. The costs for vaccinations are usually borne by the statutory health insurance. But as is always the case in stressful everyday life, you don't take the time to visit the doctor. Exactly for this reason, as an employer, you should offer company vaccination protection. This has the added value for you that you can effectively prevent absenteeism due to flu and protect the health of your employees. As an employer, you are usually responsible for a company vaccination measure. The cost of the vaccine and medical service can range from 20 to 35 euros. However, this is still much cheaper for you than bearing the economic damage that occurs when many employees are absent due to illness for a long time.

Is the company flu vaccination compulsory?

This question can be answered with a resounding no. Although there are many advantages for you and your employees if the flu vaccination takes place in the company, it is not a mandatory measure for you as an employer. Because vaccinations, visits to the dentist and cancer check-ups are part of the private preventive health measures of your employees. Due to the fact that the flu vaccination is a voluntary offer, employees cannot make any liability claims if side effects occur after the vaccination. The offer of a vaccination does not represent a business risk for you under any circumstances.

Occupational medicine: your duty as an employer

Speaking of workplace health promotion: You have to ensure that the well-being of your employees is not endangered by their work. In the area of ​​health care, appointing a company doctor who can carry out the vaccinations in the company falls into place. In addition, the company doctor is responsible for preventive examinations, medical advice and support with reintegration measures after a long illness. If you need help in maintaining occupational safety and occupational health measures, you can contact our experts at Deutsche Mittelstandsschutz at any time. We support you in all tasks that arise so that you can concentrate on your day-to-day business. And not just in Hamburg, Berlin and Cologne, but throughout Germany throughout the Federal Republic.

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Cover picture © Shutterstock, Estrada Anton