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More Firms Urge Workers to Get Seasonal Flu Shots

As the Centers for Disease Control and other health authorities have recommended that everyone get a flu shot this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many employers are wondering if they can require seasonal flu vaccinations for their staff.

The CDC and the medical community recommend it in order to minimize the chances of double-infection of both the seasonal flu and COVID-19.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission more than a decade ago issued guidance asserting that employers can require their workers to get influenza shots. But, employment law specialists recommend that the need for vaccinations be job-related (think nurses, doctors and emergency medical technicians) and, if it’s not, that employers strongly recommend it instead.

A recent study by Mercer LLC found that:

  • 62% of employers are providing special communications on the importance of flu shots this year.
  • 60% of employers will cover 100% of the flu shot cost, be that at the provider’s office, a pharmacy or other location.
  • 34% said they would provide indoor on-site flu shots.
  • 10% said they would provide on-site drive-up flu shots.
  • 8% said they would provide outside on-site flu shots.

Besides the risk of double-infection, health care practitioners say flu shots are extremely important this year because the symptoms of the two viruses are so similar that it would be difficult to tell if someone has influenza or COVID-19.

Additionally, if someone contracts the flu, they will be more susceptible to also catching COVID-19 ― and perhaps dealing with worse symptoms as a result.

Past experience

Some employers have experience in administering and recommending flu shots among their workers during a pandemic: the H1N1 pandemic in 2009. While that flu strain was not as deadly as the coronavirus, many employers set up flu vaccination programs.

Mostly they recommended but did not require that their workers get vaccinated. The successful companies offered the vaccinations for free.

The CDC estimates that some 60 million Americans contracted H1N1, and 12,000 of them died from the disease. Comparatively, as of mid-October this year, 210,000 Americans had died from COVID-19, according to the agency.

What you can do

The biggest takeaway from the EEOC and employment law specialists is that companies can and should recommend that their employees get flu shots, but not require them to.

If you require them to do so, you could have conflicts with personnel for different reasons.

If you can’t show that the vaccinations are a business necessity, you may find yourself in a difficult position if an employee refuses due to medical reasons or religious belief. At that point, you could be violating the Americans with Disabilities Act or Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

Also, some of your employees may be “anti-vaxxers” who believe that vaccines are harmful. That could set up a fight you may not want to get embroiled in.

If you decide to strongly recommend shots, you may want to consider incentivizing your employees by making the vaccinations free.

Large companies can organize flu shots on-site for their staff much more easily than small companies, and many larger players set up clinics that employees could go to for their inoculations.

If you have the resources, you can also contract with a clinic or hospital to have staff come to your facility and administer vaccinations. Or you can offer to refund employees the cost of vaccinations they get at the doctor’s office, pharmacy or other location. Many health plans will also offer free flu vaccinations.

If you would like to speak with us call Gary Wallach at 914-806-5853 or click here to email or click here to visit our website.

BGES Group’s office, located in Larchmont, NY is a full service insurance agency offering, Property, Liability, Umbrella Liability, Business Auto, Bid & Performance Bonds, Inland Marine, Worker’s Compensation, New York State Disability, Group Health, Life insurance, Personal lines and Identity Theft.

BGES Group are Worker’s Compensation Specialists for the States of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut – Issues we address: 1) Lowering pricing – we have specialty programs that can save you up to 40%; 2) Finding a new company; 3) Replacing policies that are being cancelled or non renewed; 4) Audit disputes; 5) Company creating fictitious payroll at audit time; 6) Lowering high experience modifications factors; 7) Misclassification of payrolls; 8) Lowering or eliminating renewal deposits;   9) Getting coverage when you’ve been without for a few months; 10) Covering multiple states under one policy; 11) Eliminating 10% service or policy fees; 12) Timely issuance of certificates; 13) Always being able to get someone on the phone or by email when you need to.

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If you would like to speak with us call Gary Wallach at 914-806-5853 or click here to email or click here to visit our website.

Company: BGES Group, 216A Larchmont Acres West, Larchmont, NY 10538

e-mail: bgesgroup@gmail.com

website: http://www.bgesgroup.com

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