Flu Costs the U.S. More Than $87 Billion Annually

Prevention is better than cure when it comes to any illness, and influenza—the flu—is no exception. Business Pulse: Flu Prevention, launched today by the CDC Foundation, provides employers and workers with access to resources and information to prepare for the 2014–2015 flu season. Vaccination is the single best way to prevent the flu. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 45 percent of the U.S. population got a flu vaccine during the 2012-2013 flu season, preventing an estimated 6.6 million flu-related illnesses, 3.2 million flu-related medical visits and 79,000 hospitalizations. However, many more people could have been protected if they had gotten vaccinated. CDC will release final flu vaccination coverage estimates for the 2013-2014 season today at the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases press conference which kicks off the influenza vaccination campaign season.

Each year, on average 5 percent to 20 percent of the U.S. population gets the flu, tens of thousands are hospitalized and thousands die from flu-related illness. Employers can play an important role in preventing flu, helping to protect employees’ health and reducing losses in productivity and revenue. Business Pulse: Flu Prevention provides key, up-to-date information from CDC on how businesses can promote flu vaccination efforts and prevent flu in their employees.

“Flu is unpredictable but make no mistake—anyone can get sick from the flu, including employees who are otherwise healthy,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “Influenza also negatively impacts business continuity. Businesses that want to stay productive throughout flu season should encourage and support vaccination of their employees—vaccination is the single most effective way to protect against flu.”
This issue of Business Pulse highlights specific influenza challenges faced by businesses as well as a question and answer feature between CSX Chief Medical Officer Thomas Neilson, M.D., and Dan Jernigan, M.D., M.P.H., a captain in the United States Public Health Service and deputy director of the Influenza Division in CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. Business Pulse: Flu Prevention also features an interactive infographic that provides useful facts and links, along with online CDC resources.

“CSX is a 24/7 operation, delivering transportation solutions to customers all across our 21,000 mile network. Healthy employees are critical to maintaining safe, dependable and timely freight shipments, so we devote significant energy and resources to ensuring the well-being of our workforce,” said Neilson. “CDC is a valuable resource for our business, offering easy-to-understand information about the flu, as well as the benefits of antiviral drugs and answers to employees’ questions about how to prevent illnesses.”

Business Pulse: Flu Prevention is the fifth in a series of quarterly business features created by the CDC Foundation, an independent nonprofit organization. Other Business Pulse topics to date include business continuity, safe healthcare, global health security and travelers’ health.