All Articles Tagged "vaccine"

The Flu Epidemic Is Hitting People and Companies Hard

January 15th, 2013 - By Tonya Garcia
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A funeral for six-year-old Tahlia Johnson, who died of the flu. AP Photo/LM Otero

A funeral for six-year-old Tahlia Johnson, who died of the flu. AP Photo/LM Otero

The Centers for Disease Control made it official late last week: the flu outbreak has reached epidemic levels with 47 states reporting flu activity and 4.3 percent of outpatient visits attributed to flu symptoms. The threshold to reach epidemic level is 2.2. percent.

So this is bad news, right? For most people, yes. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that job absenteeism spikes during flu season, and this is the worst in a decade. According to sources speaking to The Wall Street Journalbusinesses will lose billions because of this situation.

But not everyone is complaining. Ad Age reports that, unsurprisingly, companies in the cold and flu relief area are booming. Reckitt Benckiser, makers of Mucinex and Delsym, and Johnson & Johnson, which counts Children’s Motrin and Tylenol among its brands, are among the companies in this space that have seen an eight percent rise in sales.

And with efforts to avoid getting sick at a high, Lysol, Clorox, and other disinfectant brands are getting a 22 percent boost.

As we’ve previously reported, the best way to stave illness is to get vaccinated. But only 40 percent of Americans have done so for a variety of reasons, some good, some bad. The New Yorker cautions that even if you’re one of those people who refuse to get the vaccine, keep in mind that if you do get sick, you can pass it on to the most vulnerable in your family — children and the elderly. Or if you choose not to get it for yourself, perhaps you should press for members of these demographics to do so. As many as 45,000 Americans die every year from the flu. (!) Twenty people nationwide have died already, including six-year-old Tahlia Johnson, who’s funeral is pictured above. According to AP Images, it’s not certain whether she was vaccinated.

We did a little more digging to see if there’s anything more — anything at all — that companies can do to help employees. Unfortunately, the much-discussed hand washing and vaccination suggestions are really the only things we could find. Although this article suggests that companies can go an extra step toward bringing vaccinations to the office on a special day, making it available to anyone interested. With billions in losses at risk, it might be worth the trouble.

The Flu Is Spreading: Now There Are Vaccine Shortages and Offices Are Infested With Germs

January 11th, 2013 - By Tonya Garcia
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At this point, everyone knows someone who’s is or has suffered from a bad case of the flu. Boston has declared a health emergency because 700 cases have been reported and 18 people have died. More than 40 other states are also seeing widespread flu infections. Politicians have been all over Twitter telling people to get vaccinated. And the CDC is expected to issue an update today for what is already being called “one of the worst flu seasons in years.” And we’re only at the start of it.

Last year was a light year for flu cases, so this year’s spike has got everyone scrambling (and coughing, and sneezing…).  There are different strains of the flu and, reports TIME, we’re lucky that the vaccines that are available this year match the prevalent strain that’s making everyone sick. The best advice is get vaccinated.

According to Reuters, Sanofi is the largest vaccine provider in the US and they’re already working on next year’s batch (the vaccine is different from year to year). So if you haven’t been vaccinated and would still like to be, it’s not too late, but you might have to do some searching.

For children, there are some shortages as well, but, on top of that, there are also shortages of Tamiflu, the medicine given to children who are already sick. “In the meantime, pharmacists can make a substitute by dissolving Tamiflu capsules in a sweet liquid, according to a spokeswoman for Roche’s Genentech unit, which makes Tamiflu,” the article says. Even with the shortage, Reuters says that Roche, the makers of Tamiflu, will see a business boost as a result of the high demand.

Also, be aware that if you want to make a trip to the hospital, they’re also overwhelmed by the number of patients. Those with loved ones admitted for other reasons may also find visitor restrictions as hospitals take steps to protect patients whose immune systems are weakened.

Even if you take measures to keep from getting sick, you still have to be around other people at work. The workplace can be a virtual petrie dish of germs and sickness. The CDC says, besides the vaccine, lots of hand washing and avoidance are the way to go to protect yourself. “[S]o  if you work in an office, embrace your social anxiety issues and shut the door,” writes Bloomberg Businessweek. If you’re lucky enough to have a job where you can telecommute from home, that’s also an option.