Which Vaccines Should I Add to My Flu Clinic? August 4, 2014 By Cait Hartwyk Leave a Comment Flu season is nearly upon us, and you proactively already have your flu clinic booked (if you don’t have the clinic scheduled, there is still time, but what are you waiting for?)! Your onsite flu clinic is a great opportunity to offer your employees additional protection and help ensure their health and wellness throughout the year by offering additional protective vaccines. So, what other vaccines should you make available to your employees at the onsite event? Hepatitis B What is Hepatitis B? Hepatitis B can result in a serious infection that causes an inflammation of the liver, most often caused by a viral infection. Hepatitis B is transmitted primarily through contact with blood or blood-derived fluids, and it can be spread from one person to another. The most common ways it is spread in the U.S. are by sexual contact, contact with blood or other bodily fluids, and sharing needles. In addition, a mother can pass Hepatitis B to her baby during childbirth. Most people do not experience symptoms immediately after coming into contact with the virus and may be unaware they are carrying the disease until they receive a blood test. Hepatitis B can cause short term illness, also known as acute Hepatitis B, leading to tiredness, muscles and joint pain, diarrhea, vomiting, loss of appetite, and jaundice. Some people go on to develop chronic Hepatitis B which is a long-lasting infection that occurs when the body can’t get rid of the virus. This can lead to more serious complications such as liver damage, liver cancer, and death. How do I prevent Hepatitis B? The best way to prevent Hepatitis B and the serious consequences of the infection is by getting the Hepatitis B vaccine. The vaccine is safe and effective and is usually administered over a six month period for a full course of three injections. Who needs the Hepatitis B vaccine? People who are at a higher risk for contracting Hepatitis B include health care workers and people whose jobs exposes them to human blood, anyone traveling to or working in areas where the virus is more widespread, and people with HIV infection, kidney disease, or chronic liver disease. Pneumonia What is Pneumonia? Pneumonia is generally caused by the bacterium Streptococcus Pneumoniae, but this lung infection can also be caused by different types of bacteria, virus, or fungi. You can fall ill with pneumonia as a result of normal, daily life activities; pneumonia is commonly spread by direct person-to-person contact with respiratory secretions (like saliva or mucus) of an infected person. During flu season, the population in general is at higher risk to contract the disease since having a cold or the flu makes it harder for your lungs to fight infection. Pneumonia and its symptoms can vary from mild to severe, and in some cases can be life-threatening. Individuals with this lung infection usually get very sick with a cough and fever and have a hard time breathing. How do I prevent Pneumonia? Vaccination is the best way to prevent pneumococcal disease and is especially important because some strains of Streptococcus pneumoniae are resistant to antibiotics. The pneumonia vaccine prevents serious blood, brain, and lung infections and complications. Who needs the Pneumonia vaccine? It’s important that people receive the vaccination especially if they are part of a group that is at a higher risk for getting the infection in the first place. This includes individuals who have sickle cell disease, diabetes, HIV, a compromised immune system, kidney disease, or asthma. In addition, individuals who smoke or reside in a place where people live close together like a dorm or nursing home should get the pneumonia vaccination. Vitamin B12 What is Vitamin B12? Vitamin B12 is a vitamin naturally found in foods such as meat, fish, and dairy products. B12 is an essential vitamin that is required for the proper functioning and development of the brain, nerves, blood cells, and many other parts of the body. Proper levels of Vitamin B12 protect against memory loss and are useful in boosting mood, energy, concentration, and the immune system. Although most people get enough B12 from a healthy diet, some individuals have difficulty absorbing this essential nutrient and may develop a B12 deficiency. This can damage the nervous system and result in a range of unpleasant symptoms including weakness, tiredness, light-headedness, rapid heartbeat, pale skin, easy bruising or bleeding, upset stomach, diarrhea or constipation. How do I prevent a B12 deficiency? Vitamin B12 injections are a good way to treat a B12 deficiency or prevent a deficiency from occurring if you have certain conditions such as atrophic gastritis, conditions affecting the small intestine, or immune system disorders. Injecting B12 allows the vitamin to be delivered directly to the bloodstream so that it’s easily absorbed by the body. B12 plays an essential role in cell metabolism, and many injection recipients report increased energy levels and better memory and concentration. Who needs the Vitamin B12 shot? Even if you don’t have a B12 deficiency, it’s still a good idea to consider receiving the injection. These injections can give you added energy to keep you feeling your best, especially during flu season when your body may be particularly run down. Higher levels of vitamins, including B12, in the body’s tissues have been shown to increase antibody production by the immune system following flu shots. Tdap What is Tdap? Tdap stands for tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis, a certainly unpleasant and potentially deadly combination of diseases. Tetanus causes painful muscle tightening and stiffness all over the body and can particularly affect muscles in the head and neck so you can’t open your mouth, swallow, or sometimes even breathe. Diphtheria can cause a thick coating to form in the back of the throat leading to breathing problems, paralysis, heart failure, and death. Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, causes severe coughing spells, which can lead to difficulty breathing, vomiting, and disturbed sleep. Diphtheria and pertussis are both spread from person to person through coughing or sneezing, and tetanus enters the body through cuts, scratches or other open wounds. How do I prevent Tdap? The Tdap vaccine protects not just the recipient but also the wider community by preventing the spread of these diseases from person to person, and, in so doing, offers some protection to the unvaccinated as well. It’s important that people receive this 3-in-1 vaccine and get the recommended booster every 10 years. Who needs the Tdap vaccine? Pregnant women should get a dose of Tdap during every pregnancy in order to protect the newborn from pertussis. In addition, caregivers of infants, including grandparents and babysitters, should make sure they have received this vaccination since infants are most at risk for severe, life-threatening complications from pertussis. The Tdap vaccine is also vital for individuals who work in the healthcare industry and have direct contact with patients, as well as people traveling to foreign countries where pertussis is present. Biometric Screens What is a biometric screening? A biometric screening is a key component of a corporate health program, wellness event, or flu clinic. Often times, biometric screenings are the first step in many worksite wellness programs, and successful screenings can set the tone for all future wellness initiatives. These screenings can provide employees with crucial information on current and potential medical issues, allowing them to identify paths for disease prevention as well as improved health and productivity. How does a biometric screening work? It’s easy! Height and weight are recorded, BMI is calculated, blood pressure is measured, and basic blood tests that measure cholesterol and blood glucose are performed. Who needs a biometric screen? Everyone! Each individual should have basic measures of health, and a biometric screening program for your workforce provides this crucial service to employees and serves as the foundation for future wellness programs. A flu clinic can be about much more than just preventing the flu (although that is no small feat!). By making additional vaccines and services available to employees, you can promote a healthy workplace all year round! Tell us, are there other vaccines or services that you think could make an onsite flu event even more beneficial to employees?