Flu Vaccination and Pandemic Enhanced Benefits Policy
Is it COVID?
We really appreciate those who expressed their thoughts and concerns about flu vaccination on Flock. During the unprecedented public health crisis of the coronavirus pandemic, Dr. Rowan and Dr. Downes must make consequential and difficult decisions that affect the health and safety of our entire staff, as well as that of all of our friends and families.
We take this responsibility seriously and have made every effort to provide only the highest-caliber, evidence-based guidance as we navigate the pandemic. We don’t pretend to have it all figured out and will continue to learn more as more data and experts’ consensus opinion becomes available.
Public-health experts have warned of a “twindemic” of COVID-19 and seasonal flu overwhelming our healthcare system, and urged all Americans to get their flu shots. They worry about hospitals being overwhelmed with coronavirus and influenza cases, and about the chaos that will ensue because people are unable to distinguish their symptoms. Influenza alone is a substantial cause of death and suffering during the winter months.
No Room At The Inn?
If our healthcare system is overwhelmed by COVID or a twindemic, many people will unnecessarily suffer and die from causes unrelated to COVID — including those sick with an otherwise treatable case of the flu. Dr. David Cennimo, an infectious disease expert at Rutgers, said that both viruses overwhelming doctors’ offices, urgent care centers, and clinics is also a major concern. “If we can remove the burden of symptomatic influenza, we are helping to keep the economy running, keep the workforce running, and to just keep people out of doctors’ offices,” he said.
What Does the Flu Vaccine Do For Me?
Last spring, many Americans contracted both COVID and the flu at once. Infection with more than one respiratory virus actually occurs more frequently than many people realize.
“Patients tend to do worse if they are fighting multiple respiratory infections at the same time. So you definitely wouldn’t want both the flu and COVID at the same time. To choose to not get the flu vaccine is to choose actively to say, ‘I want no chance of protection,’” said Cennimo. “And that makes no sense to me, given the incredible safety of these vaccines.”
Flu vaccine can also lower your risk of complications or dying from the flu, even if you do get sick. For example, about 80% of children who die from the flu are not vaccinated. “The people that were immunized against influenza and subsequently got influenza that year (2017-2018), they went to the hospital a lot less than people who weren’t immunized. They got intubated a lot, lot less,” he said. “So there’s a value to partial immunity, and sort of attenuating the infection.”
Is Flu Vaccine Safe?
According to the CDC, scientific studies have shown that the flu vaccines are both safe and effective. Hundreds of millions of Americans have safely received flu vaccines for more than 50 years and the body of scientific evidence overwhelmingly supports their safety.
Like any medical product, vaccines can cause side effects. Side effects of the flu vaccine are generally mild and go away on their own within a few days.
Common side effects from the flu shot include:
- Soreness, redness, and/or swelling from the shot
- Muscle aches
It’s important to understand that these are side effects — not the infectious disease. The flu vaccine cannot cause flu. These side effects last a short time compared to the actual flu illness. You may not feel 100% after a vaccination, but this is a small price to pay to be protected from a nasty disease.
Can an Employer Require Vaccination?
It’s established in the law that employers do have the right to mandate legitimate health and safety requirements, including vaccinations, as long as they offer a process for an employee to request exemption for health-related reasons — such as documentation from their doctor. Many employers deem that vaccination is necessary to maintain safety for other employees as well as for their clients. Across our country —workplaces, schools, and even pet boarding kennels 😉 require vaccinations.
As our recent COVID scare demonstrated, the measures we’re taking to prevent coronavirus infection don’t necessarily protect us from other common viruses — like colds and flus. We believe the odds of at least one COVID case at Paoli Vetcare this winter is high. Even if we avoid COVID-19, we’re likely to experience repeated shutdowns, reduced hours, and mandatory COVID testing to return to work.
Because COVID symptoms are indistinguishable from other common sicknesses, it’s critical that we minimize all illnesses. Instead of a mandatory flu vaccination policy, we’ve decided to encourage everyone to get a flu vaccination with an incentive program — the Pandemic Enhanced Benefits Program.
What’s the Pandemic Enhanced Benefits Program?
For those who provide proof of flu vaccination to Candice before November 30, 2020, Paoli Vetcare’s Pandemic Enhanced Benefits Program will provide paid for time off for missed work due to symptoms, when hours are cut or eliminated due to our COVID prevention protocol, when you miss work due to 14 day quarantine from possible coronavirus exposure, or when in 14 day isolation period due to a positive COVID test.
If you choose not to get vaccinated, you will not participate in Paoli Vetcare’s Pandemic Enhanced Benefits. Paid sick time will be limited to the standard benefit of 3 paid sick days. The determination of qualifying incident(s) and extent of coverage is solely at the discretion of management and benefits may be time-limited, e.g. extended business closure.
It’s not farfetched to imagine Paoli Vetcare could shutdown or you could be unable to work for a number of weeks in the coming months. Protecting yourself with a vaccine also PROTECTS OTHERS 😷 from disease and even death. In order to protect everyone on our team, we are strongly encouraging flu vaccination during this historic worldwide pandemic. This program is in effect until April 1, 2021.
Vaccines are readily available at supermarkets, drug stores, and your doctor’s office. Here’s a handy VACCINE FINDER.