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National Immunization Awareness Month: Incorporating Preventive Care Into Your Benefits Strategy

Over the years, vaccines have reduced or eliminated many diseases that caused severe illness and sometimes death, but these viruses and bacteria still exist.

Our disease rates in the United States are low compared to the rest of the world. But by not vaccinating we become vulnerable to these diseases.

Infectious diseases remain a significant cause of illness. Many adults are not getting the recommended vaccines they need making them an easy target for illness. Vaccine-preventable diseases are spread from one person to another. If you are not immune, you will most likely become infected with the disease. The cycle, however, can be broken if a high percentage of our population is vaccinated. Each year, the CDC provides a recommended immunization schedule for adults aged 19 or older in the United States.

According to Healthy People 2020, approximately 42,000 adults die each year from vaccine-preventable diseases in the United States.

Burden of Vaccine-Preventable Disease:

  • Since 2010, flu-related deaths are up from 12,000 to 56,000.
  • Every year 900,000 people get pneumococcal pneumonia, causing 19,000 deaths.
  • There are between 850,000 and 2.2 million people who suffer from chronic hepatitis B, which can cause liver cancer. Ninety-five percent of new hepatitis B infections are in adults.
  • HPV causes cancer in 27,000 women and men each year.
  • There are close to 1 million cases of shingles reported annually and 20% of people will suffer severe pain long after the virus subsides.

By the year 2020, one in every four workers will be over the age of 55. Eighty percent of older adults have at least one chronic disease and sixty-eight percent have at least two. Individuals with certain chronic disease such as heart disease, lung disease or diabetes are more likely to develop serious complications that can result in long-term illness, hospitalization and even death. Vaccines are a proven means of preventing and reducing these complications.

Vaccines are one of the most cost-effective preventive measures for employers to embrace. Vaccines work with the body’s immune system to create antibodies to fight infection. The health and wellness of your employees is important to your bottom line. Companies that focus on disease prevention can slow those double-digit annual increases. Getting vaccinated is one of the easiest things employees can do to benefit their health and wellbeing. Unfortunately, chronic illness accounts for 900,000 deaths a year in this country and is not generally preventable by a pill or poke.

An Ounce of Prevention is Worth:

  1. Increased productivity
  2. Decreased absenteeism
  3. Healthier workforce
  4. Reduced healthcare costs
  5. Increased revenue

Flu is responsible for 45% of workdays lost; 49% of low productivity among working adults ages 50-64.

What Can You Do?

  1. Promote vaccines and the benefits your company offers to cover the cost of vaccines as part of a broader health & wellbeing strategy promoting prevention and self-care.
  2. Educate employees and eliminate barriers
    • ACA plans cover preventive immunizations at 100%
    • Most network retail pharmacies offer immunizations
    • Offer on-site immunization clinics or offer immunization through health fairs

What Else Do You Need to Know?

  • Testing and monitoring of vaccines are ongoing through the FDA and CDC
  • Vaccine side effects are usually mild and go away in a few days
  • Vaccines are one of the safest ways to protect your health
  • Vaccines lower your chance of contracting other diseases
  • Vaccines reduce your chance of spreading disease

CDC Recommended Adult Vaccinations Include the Following:

  1. Hepatitis A
  2. Hepatitis B
  3. Shingles
  4. Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
  5. Influenza
  6. Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR)
  7. Meningococcal Disease
  8. Pneumococcal Disease
  9. Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis (Tdap)
  10. Varicella (Chicken Pox)

To learn more about how you can encourage vaccination or incorporate a wellbeing strategy to your benefits plan design, contact your OneDigital representative.