Your business may experience higher than normal absenteeism during influenza season. Influenza can cause mild to severe respiratory illness and can even lead to death. We urge you to follow the guidelines below and work closely with us to slow the spread and severity of flu season here in South Carolina.
Flu Planning Advice for Businesses and Employers
Make a flu response plan using these resources from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
- Seasonal Flu Information for Businesses & Employees
- Plan for the Impact of Influenza Pandemic on Your Business
- Business Pandemic Influenza Planning Checklist
- Health Insurer Flu Response Plan
- Pandemic Preparedness for Businesses with Oversees Operations
Protect Your Employees and Customers
Do your part to prevent and slow the spread of influenza among your employees, customers and their families:
- Encourage employees to learn the facts about vaccination and get vaccinated against influenza.
- Tell your employees about DHEC’s flu vaccine finder website to help them locate vaccine providers in your local community.
- Require employees to stay home if they have a fever of 100ºF or higher with a cough or sore throat.
- Require employees who have flu to remain at home until their fever has been gone for 24 hours without the use of fever reducing medications. In most cases employees with the flu will miss 3 to 5 days.
- Expect and plan for higher than normal employee absences this flu season. If you don’t already have one, establish a list of on-call workers to cover for employees who are ill.
- Change your policies to encourage and support rather than penalize employees who must miss work because they are ill with the flu or caring for a family member who has the flu. When symptoms are mild, the employee may not need to see a health care provider, so it’s best not to require a doctor’s excuse. Also, some employees may be forced to stay home in an outbreak due to school and child care closings. Employees who stay home when sick are helping to protect other employees, customers and the public. Allow them to do this without fear of losing their jobs.
- Separate ill employees from other workers until they can go home.
- Recommend that employees who have flu symptoms see their health care provider right away if they are at high risk for complications. Early treatment with antiviral medications may help lessen the symptoms. Those at high risk include
- Adults and children who have chronic conditions such as asthma and diabetes or other lung, heart, liver, blood, neurologic, neuromuscular, or metabolic disorders
- Pregnant women
- People aged 50 years or older
- Adults and children with weak immune systems
- Children younger than 5 years old
- Children younger than 18 years who are on long-term aspirin treatment.
- Encourage employees to wash their hands often with soap and water. Ask them to get into the habit of washing their hands for about as long as it takes to sing the Happy Birthday song twice.
- Ask employees to cover their nose and mouth with a tissue when they cough or sneeze and throw the tissue in the trash.
- Encourage your employees to eat a healthy diet, exercise and get plenty of rest.
- Frequently wipe down commonly touched surfaces like stairway railings, telephones, and door handles. Otherwise, follow your normal housekeeping routine. Get additional information on environmental disinfection to prevent flu from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
- Download, post and distribute free DHEC flu materials.
- Educate employees about the dangers of giving aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid) to children or teenagers who have the flu. This can cause a rare but serious illness called Reye’s syndrome.
- Consider selective business closings in flu outbreaks, especially if your staff includes a sizeable number of people with chronic health conditions or pregnant women.
Encourage Flu Vaccination
Flu vaccines are your employees' best protection against influenza. People who are in greater danger of life-threatening health problems from the flu, should get vaccinated as soon as possible. The CDC also urges anyone who lives or works closely with an at-risk person (such as an infant under 6 months of age) - to get vaccinated as soon as possible.