Worker exposure to certain diseases can be minimized by mandatory and voluntary vaccination. Influenza (flu) is one of those diseases for which a vaccine exists. However, it is also a disease that can change and it is seasonal, mostly affecting people during winter months.
In some industries, such as healthcare where workers can be in constant contact with immune-compromised clients, vaccination against the flu is required. Because the flu virus is highly infectious, the vaccine provides seasonal immunity. It is not, however, failure proof as variants exist and not everyone is protected equally. Consequently, even if an employee is immunized, using proper protection methods is still advisable.
In industries where exposure is not job-related, an employer may offer an annual immunization program, and employees can take advantage voluntarily. There are no regulations that specifically address the flu, but there are many guidelines.
The flu can be a serious illness, and occasionally there are strains that can be fatal. When these strains are widespread, a Pandemic may be declared and the government implements special precautions. Employers should, nevertheless, have a program for the eventuality of a Pandemic. It, hopefully, may never be used, but employers should be prepared and review the program as necessary.
To get more information on the applicability of influenza prevention programs for a specific County operation please contact the corresponding departmental Safety Coordinator.
For further information on specific regulatory guidelines please refer to the link(s) below:
CDC Flu Fact Sheet
CDC Vaccination Facts
Flu Shot Declination Form (PDF: 77 kB)