Fighting the Flu:
Organizations Should Take Notice and Take Action

State of the 2024/2025 Flu and Covid Season

U.S. health authorities look to Australia for a prediction of the upcoming flu and COVID season. Influenza rates peak during the winter months, which begin in June in the southern hemisphere. By tracking the impact of influenza in Australia, leaders in the United States can get a picture of what local flu seasons will look like.

The 2022 flu season in Australia saw a tenfold rise in cases compared to the previous season. This was caused by increased travel and interaction when society reopened, and in-person gatherings resumed after the COVID-19 pandemic.

That trend appears to be continuing into the upcoming influenza season. As of April 2024, Australian authorities were already seeing flu cases rising more quickly than in prior years,1 and Australian media are warning residents that the 2024 flu season could be longer and more severe than the previous year.2

How To Avert a Public Health and Economic Crisis

Global health experts predict that the coming flu season may be longer and more serious than in the past. Flu symptoms are unpleasant, and on average, people miss five days of work to recover from a typical case of the flu. More serious cases can lead to grave complications like pneumonia, which require hospitalization, ICU care, or even death.

The flu makes millions of Americans sick each year, making it a public health issue with multi-billion-dollar ramifications for U.S. businesses annually. Lost work, direct healthcare costs, and reduced productivity take a toll on organizations of all sizes.

One of the best public health solutions is for workplaces to plan an onsite flu clinic. Seasonal flu vaccination is the best way to prevent transmission and reduce the severity of influenza. Offering a no-hassle way for employees to get vaccinated can protect their health and reduce flu-related workplace impacts.

The Health Effects of the Flu

Influenza, also known as the flu, is a respiratory infection caused by a virus. It can cause symptoms that range from mild to severe. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) warns that flu symptoms may include fever, aches, cough, fatigue, sore throat, sinus congestion, vomiting, and diarrhea. Symptoms may last for up to two weeks.

In some cases, influenza can lead to severe symptoms, leading to emergency room visits, hospitalization, pneumonia, and even death.3

Flu is highly transmissible. It is spread through respiratory droplets. People can catch the flu after touching an infected surface and then touching their eyes, nose, or mouth. A person with influenza can transmit the virus to others before they show symptoms and until five to seven days after infection.4

Statistics from the 2023-2024 U.S. Flu Season
(October 1, 2023 through April 27, 2024)5

• 34 million to 63 million flu-related illnesses

• 16 million to 29 million flu-related medical visits

• 380,000 to 790,000 flu-related hospitalizations

• 24,000 to 69,000 flu-related deaths

The Economic Effects of the Flu

The effects of flu outbreaks can lead to financial consequences. Both workers and employers face direct costs due to illness. Flu can lead to direct healthcare expenses for inpatient and outpatient care, with potential costs rising dramatically in the event of medical complications.

During the 2022-2023 flu season, an emergency room visit followed by hospitalization for the flu cost between $11,384 and $12,896 per person.6
In addition, influenza introduces significant indirect costs. Employers may notice decreased productivity due to absenteeism and presenteeism, which refers to being at work but not performing effectively.

Workers who become ill or need to take time off face missed wages, which can be a substantial burden. Research shows that the workers typically miss five days of work due to a case of the flu. This leads to an average cost of $200 lost per workday. During a typical flu-related absence, the flu can cost $1,000 for each worker without factoring in direct healthcare costs.7

The workforce effects of a flu outbreak may lead to lost sales and decreased revenue. Clients may seek out other vendors if their needs cannot be met due to delays, short staffing, or service disruptions caused by illness.8

Flu Vaccine Benefits

Vaccines are one of the best tools to reduce the impact of influenza. Studies show that flu shots can reduce the risk of flu illness by 40% to 60% among the population. The CDC estimates that, during the 2019-2020 flu season, flu vaccination prevented an estimated seven million influenza cases, three million medical visits for influenza, 100,000 influenza-associated hospitalizations, and 7,000 deaths associated with influenza infections.9

Vaccines can also reduce the severity of illness. A 2021 study showed that vaccinated adults who were hospitalized for influenza had a 26% lower risk of intensive care unit (ICU) admission and a 31% lower risk of death from flu compared with patients who had not received the vaccine.10

COVID-19 Vaccination Planning

Infectious disease experts are tracking new variants of the COVID-19 virus. The variants rising in spring of 2024 are the omicron variants JN.1 and a JN.1 descendant, KP.2. At this time, experts believe they may be transmissible even among people who were previously vaccinated.11 In the spring of 2024, the CDC recommended that people aged 65 and older get an additional dose of the 2023-24 COVID-19 vaccine for extra protection.

COVID-19 remains unpredictable in terms of seasonality. Surges can happen at any time of year. However, speaking to Bloomberg Television in March 2024, CDC Director Mandy Cohen said they anticipate a new COVID-19 vaccine formulation in the fall. She suggested that individuals should plan to get a COVID-19 vaccine at the same time as their flu shot.12

Workplaces can mitigate COVID-19 cases by staying on top of the latest vaccination recommendations and offering vaccine clinics at the same time as flu shot clinics.

Vaccine Rates Dropping

Despite the safety and efficacy of the flu vaccine, vaccination rates are dropping. The CDC advises all people over the age of 6 months should receive the flu vaccine each year, but fewer than half of adults in America follow that guidance.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), estimated flu vaccination coverage among U.S. adults aged 18 and older between 2022 and 2023 was 46.9%, a decrease from the previous year’s coverage of 49.4%. This marks a reversal in the trend of flu shot coverage increasing yearly. From the 2017-2018 flu season through the 2020-2021 flu season, adult vaccination coverage rose from 37.1% to 50.2%.13

A 2024 study showed that time and convenience are frequent barriers to seasonal flu vaccination compliance. Other reasons cited for not getting vaccinated against the flu include expense, fear of getting influenza from vaccination, fear of side effects, and lack of information.14

Benefits of a Workplace Flu Vaccine Clinic

The CDC recommends worksite and corporate flu shots as part of comprehensive workplace wellness programs. Flu shot clinics provided as employee health services are an effective means of increasing vaccine access and stopping the spread of the flu. Following this guidance isn’t just a way of offering preventative health care for workers and reducing flu infections; it fosters a sense that workplaces take employee health and safety seriously. This commitment to providing holistic work-life support is critical to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives.

By embracing CSR principles alongside diversity, equity, and inclusion policies (DEI) and employee well-being programs, businesses position themselves as societal partners who take responsibility for the well-being of community members, the environment, and the economy.

Flu vaccine clinics and related health and safety initiatives offer CRS benefits to both workers and employers, such as:

Removing logistical barriers to vaccination

Saving on lost work due to time spent getting vaccines off-site

Reducing employee sick days

Boosting employee productivity

Improving employee morale

Improving health

Offering barrier-free access to a flu vaccination program is a tangible way to demonstrate commitment to DEI and CSR. Recognition of the direct health benefits and corporate citizenship benefits of services like vaccine clinics are leading more employers to embrace employee population health as a CSR to offer vaccine programs to employees and eligible family members.15

To maximize the benefits of a workplace vaccination clinic, it should be hassle-free, easy to use, and highly accessible to all employees. Workplaces can partner with an experienced Clinical Services Team to plan a vaccine clinic that serves their needs.

Ramp Health has been delivering cost-effective health solutions with safe, compliant, professionally staffed vaccine clinics for more than 20 years. Ramp Health vaccine clinics are:

Our vaccine programs are customized to accommodate the diverse and varied needs of individuals and organizations. We offer agility and scalability to address any changing needs, including the ability to increase capacity as needed. Our teams can administer vaccinations up to 12 hours a day, seven days a week.

We believe that vaccination clinics must meet participants where they are and when they need services. Our clinics are designed to offer sufficient appointments that employees can schedule conveniently with our online scheduling system. We also organize clinics that include mobile, walk-up, and drive-through modalities if needed. In addition, Ramp Health offers a voucher program with Walgreens which makes it possible for eligible family members and remote employees to receive vaccines.

Ramp Health follows strict adherence to all OSHA guidelines and HIPPA requirements. We ensure safety in all areas of vaccine clinic administration, including information technology security, appropriate cold storage, and secure data logging and reporting.

Ramp Health delivers all infrastructure needs for a successful vaccine clinic, including Wi-Fi, electricity, refrigeration, storage, waste

Ramp Health provides all the PPE required for vaccine administration, as well as the equipment and staff to store and maintain vaccines. We follow all local, state, and federal requirements, including no-waste policies. Our clinicians are trained to follow emergency medical services should patients have an adverse reaction to the vaccine.

Ramp Health can also help encourage vaccine acceptance with promotional materials. Our pre-event promotional materials include FAQs, vaccination education, and engaging communication.

Additional Vaccines

In addition to annual flu shots, Ramp Health can offer a menu of other vaccine options to your workforce, including:

  • COVID-19. At this time, the CDC is recommending additional doses of the most recent COVID-19 vaccine for people age 65 and older. Adults who have not yet received a dose of the 2023-2024 COVID-19 vaccine are also eligible for vaccination.
  • Shingles. The CDC recommends two doses of the shingles vaccines are recommended for all adults age 50 and older.
  • Pneumonia, HPV, Monkeypox, and more.

Start Planning Now

It’s never too early to start planning for your organization’s flu preparedness campaign. Thinking ahead about flu prevention can mitigate flu-related adverse health effects and significant economic consequences for businesses.
Planning now for flu preparedness ensures vaccine availability and the best pricing options. We generally recommend scheduling clinics between mid-September and December. Planning early can ensure that your employees receive their vaccines before flu cases begin to rise.

To learn more about vaccine clinics and other workforce health promotion services, contact Ramp Health today.

About Ramp Health

Since 2002, Ramp Health has been a leading provider of clinical, well-being, and safety solutions. Our offerings deliver high-quality healthcare, increased engagement, and produce measurable reductions in health and safety risks and costs for our clients. We offer customizable solutions across the full continuum of care, from prevention and well-being to robust clinical services. Our offerings include pre-chronic and chronic disease management, primary care, a full range of immunizations, biometric testing and other diagnostic services, healthcare staffing, and pandemic response. With a national network of more than 25,000 healthcare staff, Ramp Health can rapidly deploy its services at scale for private, municipal, state, and federal government customers in all 50 states.