Time to protect your workforce

17
Aug 2018
First Aid, Occupational Health

While we’ve had such a good summer, it may seem a little early to be talking about booking flu jabs, but if the end of last year and the beginning of this is anything to go by, there’s no such thing as too early.

Vaccinations save the economy up to £28.9m in averted sick day costs, as well as in an increase in productivity at work, how much of this is your savings?

A recent study by the International Longevity Centre UK (ILCUK) discovered that vaccination helps avert up to 626,000 cases of flu every year in the UK and prevents anywhere between 5,768 and 8,800 premature deaths.

Tragically, a third more people died last winter of flu compared to 2016-17, the highest toll since the winter of 2014-15.

While almost 71% of those aged 65 or over were immunised in 2015, Britain was deficient in inoculating “at risk” groups, in particular younger adults who are more likely to catch the virus and with whom vaccines work best. Over six million “vulnerable” people did not receive the flu vaccination in 2016-17.

Last year, there way two main strains of flu; strain A (H3N2), known as “Aussie flu,” and two types of B strain, including B-Yamagata. This meant that there were also two varieties of vaccine available; Quadrivalent, which offers protection against two types of influenza A, including the strain A (H3N2), and both types of the B strain, the other was Trivalent. Trivalent vaccines only offer protection against the main A strains, and a second B strain, which proved to be infrequent.

Public Health England last year completed a clinical evidence review concerning flu vaccines for the 2018/19 period and their advice, ‘is that the Quadrivalent vaccine, on average, will offer superior effectiveness compared to the Trivalent vaccine particularly during seasons when there is circulation of a B-lineage with a mismatch to that season’s Trivalent vaccine’.

The Quadrivalent vaccine therefore is more likely to offer better protection with additional clinical benefit to workers with regard to reduced absence and illness.

Kays Medical will be supplying the Quadrivalent influenza vaccine instead of the Trivalent, which we have supplied in previous years, due to the recommendations made by NHS England and Public Health England.

The infectious nature of the illness often means employees with the flu are discouraged from going to work, which has an effect on economic output.

Assistant director of research and policy at ILCUK, Ben Franklin said: “The flu continues to impose a serious burden on health services, as well as resulting in “productivity losses” due to poor health and sick days. Policymakers should take into account the economic as well as the health costs of vaccine preventable diseases when assessing the value of vaccination.” He added, “Work was needed to improve the efficacy of vaccination among older people, perhaps by offering more ‘booster’ vaccinations.

According to a study carried out by XpertHR, the average number of days lost to sickness absence fell to 5.6 for each employee in 2017 from 6.6 the previous year. Unfortunately, the costs associated with sickness absence increased, with employers losing around £570 per staff member on average by comparison with only £455 in 2016.