Workplace Safety and the Flu


Pandemic flu remains a concern for employers and workers. A pandemic can occur at any time and can be mild, moderate, or severe. Although the pandemic H1N1 flu in 2009 was considered by CDC to be mild, it created significant challenges for employers and workers and showed that many workplaces were not prepared.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has updated guidance for protecting individuals from seasonal flu.  Each year the vaccine is revised to protect against the influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common this season.

A pandemic is a global disease outbreak. An influenza pandemic occurs when a new influenza virus emerges for which there is little or no immunity in the human population, begins to cause serious illness, and then spreads easily person-to-person worldwide.

During a pandemic, transmission can be anticipated in the workplace, not only from patient to workers in healthcare settings but also among co-workers in general work settings. A pandemic would cause high levels of illness, death, social disruption, and economic loss. Everyday life would be disrupted because so many people in so many places become seriously ill at the same time. Impacts could range from school and business closings to the interruption of basic services such as public transportation and food delivery.

For the 2017–18 season, quadrivalent and trivalent influenza vaccines will be available. Inactivated influenza vaccines (IIVs) will be available in trivalent (IIV3) and quadrivalent (IIV4) formulations. Recombinant influenza vaccine (RIV) will be available in trivalent (RIV3) and quadrivalent (RIV4) formulations. Live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV4) is not recommended for use during the 2017–18 season due to concerns about its effectiveness against (H1N1)pdm09 viruses during the 2013–14 and 2015–16 seasons.

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