If you haven’t noticed, you probably will soon. Flu season came unusually early this year.
The latest statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that from Oct. 1, 2022, through Nov. 26, 2022, there were:
- 8.7 to 19 million flu illnesses
- 4.2 to 9.5 million flu medical visits
- 78,000 to 170,000 flu hospitalizations, and
- 4,500 to 13,000 flu deaths.
2022-23 flu season more severe
Flu season typically peaks somewhere between December and February. However, the numbers above are from October and November.
This flu season is more severe than it’s been in 13 years, according to the CDC. The last time we’ve seen numbers like these was in 2009 during the swine flu pandemic. And it won’t be slowing down any time soon.
The reason this flu season is so bad, according to the CDC, is reduced immunity, low vaccination uptake and the end of COVID-19 safety protocols.
Prevention is key
So, the best thing you can do to prevent employees from contracting the flu is to encourage them to get their flu vaccine. They can get their flu vaccine and COVID-19 booster at the same time.
Employees at the highest risk of serious flu complications are pregnant people, those with certain chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes or heart and lung disease, and people 65 years or older.
To prevent the spread of the flu, in addition to getting the flu vaccine, encourage workers to:
- Avoid sick people
- Stay home if they’re sick – at least 24 hours after their fever is gone without using fever-reducing medicine – and limit contact with others
- Cover their mouths when they cough or sneeze
- Throw away tissues after use
- Wash hands often with soap and water, or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer, and
- Don’t touch their eyes, nose and mouth.
Many of the same protocols you used to prevent COVID-19 can be used to prevent the flu. That’s why we had a mild flu season last year.
Check out the CDC’s page for similarities and differences between the flu and COVID-19.