How the flu vaccine can improve your employees’ health and your bottom line

Although today’s news seems to be filled with misconceptions around immunizations, the fact is that vaccines — especially the flu vaccine — can make a big difference in our community’s health. In 2018, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that the flu vaccine prevented more than seven million illnesses.1

The flu vaccine can have big benefits for employers, too. Encouraging your employees to get the flu vaccine can have a positive impact on your bottom line by:

  • Eliminating time missed from work to get vaccinated.
  • Reducing sick days taken because of the flu.
  • Preventing costly health complications caused by the flu.

One of the most effective ways to encourage vaccination is by hosting an on-site flu clinic for your employees.

How vaccines can help reduce employers’ costs

If employees can protect themselves against the flu, they are less likely to stay home sick. On average, flu symptoms last between five and seven days.2 For many people, that means a week of missed work, which translates to lost time and productivity. Ultimately, it might mean lost revenue.

Offering on-site vaccine clinics can avoid having employees miss work to visit the doctor for a vaccine.

Vaccines can be an added factor in helping to keep your health care costs down, as many people with the flu wind up at their doctor’s office or worse, in the hospital. The CDC estimates that in 2018, the flu vaccine prevented more than 100,000 hospitalizations.

Promoting the advantages of the flu vaccine

Many people remain skeptical of the flu vaccine and may pass up the opportunity to get it, which is why it’s important to educate your employees on the value of it. Aside from avoiding the flu and its symptoms, some of the advantages of the flu vaccine include:

  • Preventing out-of-pocket costs related to doctors’ visits or hospitalizations caused by the flu.
  • Avoiding missed events with family members, friends or loved ones due to illness.
  • Protecting their loved ones from the virus, especially those who are most at risk (children and the elderly).
  • Improving morale.
  • Avoiding the misery of actually having the flu.

Timing is everything: Best practices for hosting a clinic

Flu season typically lasts from late fall through the end of February, with February being the highest month for flu activity. However, flu outbreaks have been known to occur both early in the fall and well into the spring months. With that in mind, you will want to host your flu clinics early in the fall, ideally before the end of October.3

For hosting an on-site clinic in the fall, be sure to reach out to your provider in early summer to ensure you can provide vaccines for the upcoming flu season. Your provider will work closely with you to determine the right number of vaccines to order based on your number of employees and past participation in flu clinics.

Once you figure out a date (or dates) for your flu clinic, consider scheduling the clinic to last most of the day, so employees can participate when it is most convenient for them.

Getting the word out

Aim to start promoting your flu clinic at least one month in advance. This will give employees enough time to put the event on their calendar and, if needed, make an appointment.

Spread the word about your flu clinic on as many channels as possible, including email, posters, table tents in your cafeteria and your employee intranet. If you’re working with Optum on your flu clinic, we’ll provide a marketing toolkit to help you advertise the event, so you can increase participation, reduce the spread of flu and lower your health care costs.

Learn more about how you can host a flu vaccine clinic at your organization.



About the author

Debbie-Levy.jpgDebbie Levy
Product Director, Biometric Solutions, Optum

Debbie Levy is the product director for Optum Biometric Solutions. In this capacity, her primary responsibilities include product management, strategy and innovation of the Optum Biometric product line.

Prior to joining Optum, Debbie worked in product management for MoneyGram and Hewlett-Packard. Debbie has over 15 years of product management experience. She holds an MBA from Cornell and a BS from the University of Virginia.


1. CDC. 2017–2018 estimated influenza illnesses, medical visits and hospitalizations averted by vaccination in the United States. Updated Feb. 4, 2019. Accessed May 24, 2019.
2. Harvard Health Publishing. How long does the flu last? Published Jan. 16, 2018. Accessed May 24, 2019.
3. CDC. Who needs a flu vaccine and when. Updated Aug. 31, 2019. Accessed May 24, 2019.

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