Nov 24, 2022Workers benefit from flu vaccines, COVID-19 boosters
This year has been the worst year for flu in the United States in over a decade, according to recently released federal data. Farmworkers, and especially those who live in shared housing with other workers, are especially at risk of contracting respiratory diseases like flu and COVID-19.
Agricultural employers who are employing workers throughout the fall and winter months should consider offering flu vaccines and COVID-19 booster shots to their workers. Flu season normally peaks in February, which means offering vaccines for it in November and December can help protect workers throughout the winter. Growers facilitating vaccines for their workers is a crucial factor in whether a farmworker decides to protect their health with a vaccine.
Over the last two years, many growers partnered with their local health department or health clinic to provide COVID-19 vaccines to workers, and have seen how flexible vaccine providers can be about when and where to set up the clinic. These relationships can continue to be leveraged to provide flu vaccines and education to workers through quick, on-site clinics.
Although flu vaccines normally have a cost of around $30 for people without medical insurance, there are programs available that can cover the costs of the flu vaccine for each worker in many parts of the U.S.
Facts that support offering vaccinations for workers:
- According to a survey of more than 1,000 farmworkers by The National Center for Farmworker Health (NCFH), 78% of respondents reported their employer as being a trusted source of health information and resources.
- Not convinced that the flu poses a risk to your workforce? Look no further than CDC data from the 2021-22 flu season: More than 3.6 million working-age adults (aged 18-49) had to miss time off work due to being sick with the flu.
- On average, adults who get the flu will lose one full day of work, according to a study of employer incurred health care costs and productivity losses associated with the flu.
Resources for Employers to Set Up Clinics
NCFH can help connect employers with their local vaccine providers to schedule on-site clinics. NCFH is a non-profit organization that seeks to increase farmworkers’ access to health resources, and has helped agricultural employers and employer associations around the country utilize free health services available to their workers.
Through educational materials, language interpretation, and help with setting up events, NCFH works to aid the process that many growers have already started: partnering with their local healthcare providers to protect their workers’ health and well-being.
One of the primary challenges for farmworkers in accessing health services is time, and if their employers can spare a few hours during the season to provide vaccines, it can help protect both workers’ health and the business’ bottom line.
Any grower interested in providing flu shots to workers can contact Matt Solberg, at solb[email protected] for assistance in finding funds to cover the costs.
—Matt Solberg is the employer engagement coordinator for the National Center for Farmworker Health, a private, not-for-profit corporation dedicated to improving the health status of farmworker families. The NCFH provides information services, training and technical assistance, and a variety of products to community and migrant health centers nationwide, as well as organizations, universities, researchers and individuals involved in farmworker health.