Woman getting vaccinated

Give your employees their "best shot" at preventing the flu

In the midst of one of the hottest summers on record, it’s hard to believe that influenza (flu) season is right around the corner. Yet now is the time to prepare for a flu season that can begin as early as October, peak between December and February, and extend as late as May. Getting a yearly flu vaccine is your best shot at preventing the flu or at least minimizing its potentially serious complications. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone 6 months and older get the flu vaccine.

While the flu’s accompanying symptoms such as high fever, headache and cough may not seem like enough to warrant a trip to get the vaccine, remember that the flu is a contagious virus and can lead to serious complications. During the 2022-2023 flu season, the CDC estimates that there were at least 26 million illnesses, 290,000 hospitalizations, and 19,000 deaths from flu─including 154 pediatric flu deaths.[1] The CDC also states that people who were vaccinated against flu were about 40% to 70% less likely to be hospitalized because of flu illness or related complications.[2]

The flu can also be expensive, so prevention is a smart investment for any business. American workers miss 111 million workdays a year because of the flu and that can impact overall productivity and loss of earnings. The ripple effects of the flu across employers, communities and the country costs to the U.S. economy of over $80 billion annually.[3]

The 2022-2023 season also brought us a range of respiratory illnesses from the “tripledemic” of flu, COVID-19 and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). Now, with new vaccines and treatments, including a new antibody that helps protect children from RSV, we have new ways to be prepared and lower the risks of these infections and transmission in 2023-2024.[4]

That said, the CDC recently adopted the 2023-2024 Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices’ (ACIP) recommendations on annual flu vaccine in the United States.[2]  The Elixir Clinical Team has reviewed the information and summarizes this year’s vaccine recommendations for:

Early vaccination considerations for select groups

The recommended timing of flu vaccination has not changed. September and October remain the best times for most people to get vaccinated, but people can get their vaccine at any time, as long as the flu viruses pose a threat. However, while not recommended for most people, there are several considerations regarding early vaccination in July and August for the following groups:

Updated flu vaccine composition

The composition of U.S. flu vaccines is reviewed annually by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee and updated as needed to best match the anticipated common flu viruses. This season, U.S. flu vaccines contain an updated influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 component:

Vaccine green light for people with egg allergies

Most flu vaccines are produced using an egg-based manufacturing process and therefore contain a small amount of egg proteins, such as ovalbumin. Because of this, in the past there the ACIP has recommended additional safety measures for the administration of the vaccine to people who have had severe allergic reactions to egg.

According to the CDC, data now shows that persons with egg allergies of any severity can safely receive a flu vaccine. So this year, the ACIP voted that people with an egg-allergy may receive any flu vaccine (egg-based or non-egg based) as long as it is appropriate for their age and health status. Additional safety measures are no longer recommended for flu vaccination beyond those recommended for receipt of any vaccine.

Make a plan to get a flu vaccine

It’s important that flu vaccination is encouraged to all over the age of 6 months. In addition to flu vaccines that are offered at pharmacy locations in your plan's network, Elixir makes this process even easier for plan sponsors who have members within a 25-mile radius of a Rite Aid or Bartell’s pharmacy. They can request a workplace flu clinic or our vaccine voucher program to help members get flu protection conveniently. Learn more at the Rite Aid clinic sign up page: RiteAid.com/vaccine-clinics and the Rite Aid vaccine scheduler: RiteAid.com/schedule

It is okay to get a flu vaccine at the same time as a COVID-19 vaccine or booster shot. For more information about the flu or the vaccine, call 1-800-CDC-INFO or visit http://www.cdc.gov/flu/
  1. Insights on Influenza, May 30, 2023, https://www.familiesfightingflu.org/flu-season-2022-2023-in-review/
  2. 2023-2024 CDC Flu Vaccination Recommendations Adopted, https://www.cdc.gov/flu/spotlights/2022-2023/flu-vaccination-recommendations-adopted.htm
  3. 6 Ways Flu Season Impacts Employees https://www.uschamberfoundation.org/blog/post/6-ways-flu-season-impacts-employees
  4. What’s in Store for the Upcoming Respiratory Virus Season?, July 28, 2023, https://publichealth.jhu.edu/2023/rsv-covid-19-and-flu-outlook-for-2023-2024

Download and share this flyer with your members to help encourage flu shots.