Number of the day: flu vaccine

59%: Percentage of adults who say they plan to get vaccinated against the flu during the 2020-2021 flu season

Only about six in 10 people say they plan to get vaccinated against the flu during the 2020-2021 flu season, and 15% said they are not sure, according to the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases. One reason people will avoid getting their flu shot? Seventeen percent say they’re concerned about potential exposure to COVID-19 if they go out to get vaccinated.

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Flu vaccines are always important, but especially this year as COVID-19 wreaks havoc on employees’ health. “Now more than ever, during the COVID-19 pandemic, flu vaccination is critical not only to protect yourself, your loved ones and your community (especially those who are most vulnerable, like children, adults age 65-plus and individuals with certain chronic health conditions), but also to reduce potential strain on the U.S. healthcare system,” the foundation says.

Employers and HR managers often encourage flu vaccines for employees, but this year it is vital for them to do so, experts say.

“It is important employers do their part to encourage employees to receive a flu shot,” says Chaz Hinkle, chief people officer of Welltok. “Studies show that getting vaccinated can reduce flu illness, doctors’ visits and missed work and school, as well as prevent flu-related hospitalizations. Influenza vaccination is particularly important for older people, pregnant women, people who are immuno-compromised and others with chronic conditions who are at risk for serious cases of, and complications from, the flu, as this is the same group of people more vulnerable for hospitalization due to severe illness from COVID-19 infection.”

Related: 4 tips to encourage employees to get a flu shot

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HR can encourage employees to get their flu shots in a number of ways. Some ideas? Using a variety of communication and reminders (including messaging around open enrollment), offering drive-through flu shot clinics, and providing rewards and incentives, including gift cards, vacation time or flexible hours, for getting their flu shots.

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Kathryn Mayer
Kathryn Mayer is HRE’s former benefits editor and chair of the Health & Benefits Leadership Conference. She has covered benefits for the better part of a decade, and her stories have won multiple awards, including a Jesse H. Neal Award and honors from the American Society of Business Publication Editors and the National Federation of Press Women. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Denver.