Promoting the flu vaccine is a triple-win for employers. It can increase employee wellness and morale during an incredibly uncertain time. It can reduce the economic burden of flu-related lost workdays (which is estimated at $20.1 million in the U.S.). And it can protect employees while the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to loom.
Since all health plans are required by law to cover the flu vaccine, employers can help their employees free of cost.
This year promoting the flu vaccine is more important and radically different than any other year. Workplace vaccinations will surely be less common, and employers will likely struggle to communicate the flu vaccine benefit to a largely remote workforce. Employers need to embrace innovative solutions that encourage and motivate employees to receive the flu shot.
“This may be the most important year in our lifetime to get a flu vaccine,” says MyHealthMath Chief Medical Officer, Elizabeth Cote, MD, MPH. “A terrible flu season, on top of the continuing pandemic, threatens to further erode employee health, stability, and the businesses work force. Not only that, but promoting the flu vaccine will help preserve limited medical resources needed to address the pandemic.”
Wondering what employers can do? MyHealthMath is committed to helping employers get the most out of the health benefits they provide. Below, we share three ways to promote the flu vaccine in this new COVID-19 era and keep the workplace healthy.
Launch a wellness campaign
Even though many employees are working remotely, the workplace is still one of the biggest constants in peoples’ lives. Employers can launch wellness campaigns that are powerful, consistent sources of information. The campaigns should share why the flu shot is recommended, its benefits, and remind employees that they can get one free of charge.
Spread the word through company-wide emails, department-specific messages (such as a department chat or intranet page), and company social media accounts. Make the campaign stick by creating a catchy slogan and branding it with a fun infographic. Include materials directed at family members, to increase impact.
Wondering what to include? These resources from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) can get you started:
Share where employees can get flu shots
Ideally, you can host a vaccination fair at your office. The CDC shares detailed recommendations on how to do this safely and effectively. But whether you host a fair or not, it’s always important to help employees learn where they can safely get a vaccine. Since this can be insurer dependent, employers are in a particularly good position to get this info to employees.
Share the HealthMap Vaccine Finder with your employees. When you submit your zip code, you can choose from a list of locations (with phone numbers) sorted by distance. Employers can go an extra step and run these searches themselves based on office locations, and then share the list with employees. Importantly, some insurers may limit the places where their beneficiaries can get the vaccine, so check first. The easier the process, the more employees you will reach.
Make it fun
Getting a flu shot is important, but it’s not very fun and can feel like a time-suck. Help employees overcome their flu shot aversion by pairing it with incentives. For example, share $10 gift cards with the first 10 percent of employees who get a flu shot. Or, launch an inter-department competition: the department with the highest percentage of vaccinations receives lunch delivered free. Employees have autonomy to decide if they want a vaccine, but education can help them make the best decision. Also, be sure to offer flexible policies that encourage employees to take the time to get vaccinated during the workday.
Interested in learning more about communicating health benefits? Watch our recent webinar on managing Open Enrollment during a pandemic.