Managing the flu shot and COVID-19 vaccine in your workplace

Flu season is fast approaching, but is it necessary to encourage both the flu shot and COVID-19 vaccine for your workforce?

With over one year of COVID-19 experience under our belts, most of us have become experts in hand washing techniques, understanding germ transmission, and identifying cold and flu symptoms. Even so, in this new world medical experts are still recommending a flu shot this year prior to the commencement of the flu season, which runs from April to October.

Flu season can be a tough period for the best of us. Although last years’ flu season was almost non-existent, it may be too early to dismiss its relevance altogether, particularly with more people out and about and some complacency setting in.

While COVID-19 is still around, any illnesses with flu-like symptoms are going to be disruptive to the workplace due to the testing and isolation that will be required. As we know, both illnesses present similarly in terms of early symptoms. Employers should take a cautious approach in handling employees with flu-like symptoms to ensure a COVID-19 diagnosis can be eliminated prior to the unwell employee being exposed to others in the workplace. Hence, to avoid disruption as much as possible it makes sense to take all reasonable steps to reduce illnesses such as the flu by encouraging employees to get a flu shot.

While the flu seems to have taken second place in media coverage due to COVID-19, it should not be forgotten by employers as it is more serious than the common cold and can take several days or longer in some cases to recover from. This means lengthier periods of absence than the common cold and more disruption to operations. Additionally, the sufferers that attend work can spread the virus to others in the workplace, resulting in further absenteeism and lost productivity.

This flu season is a little different to most though, as many of us will also be considering a COVID-19 vaccine. So, how should we manage both the flu shot and the COVID-19 vaccine? Can they be done in one hit, or are there guidelines that should be followed?

According to the Australian Health Department website, vaccination experts recommend waiting 14 days between getting a flu shot and COVID-19 vaccine. Given this, it will be important to plan both vaccinations and be prepared for this operationally. The Australian Health Department website also states that it doesn’t matter in what order you get the vaccines either.

We recommend you use this article as a guide only, and seek the advice from your medical practitioner. More information on the 2021 Flu Vaccine can be found on the Australian Health Department website, including how to manage receiving both Flu and COVID-19 vaccines.

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