September 15, 2016
With flu season just around the corner, pharmacies need to start preparing, which includes considering offering influenza vaccination clinics—especially for local workplaces.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that the preliminary overall influenza vaccine effectiveness was 59 percent for the 2015-2016 season. And, according to the 2013 Walgreens Flu Impact Report, the 2012-2013 flu season cost employers $30.4 billion and employees $8.5 billion nationally. The report found that employees missed, on average, three days of work during the flu season.
The effect of the flu virus can be a hindrance to businesses, but independent community pharmacies can help. Bartell Drugs, a family-owned independent community pharmacy chain based in Seattle, offers workplace flu clinics every year to help local businesses keep their employees healthy.
Bartell Drugs began its workplace flu clinic program in 2006 after recognizing the need for a more convenient flu vaccination option in the community. “Many people are so busy that rushing to get a shot after work isn’t on the forefront of their agenda,” said Christina Ree, clinical programs manager at Bartell Drugs.
While the clinic’s main purpose is to prevent influenza and reduce sick days, it also serves as a reminder to the community that Bartell Drugs is more than just a place to pick up a prescription. “We are really positioning ourselves as their health care partner, and the added convenience we offer to our local community businesses is a benefit we are proud to offer,” Ree said.
The process of organizing a workplace flu clinic is fairly simple for an employer. Employers need to give the pharmacy a general idea of how many employees will receive an immunization, how employees will be billed and provide a suitable room for the clinic to take place.
From the pharmacy’s perspective, it can be a bit more difficult. “Employee participation and allocation of convenient space on the worksite can sometimes be an issue,” Ree said. “Billing various insurance plans can also be a challenge.”
The employer needs to provide an accurate representation of the allotted space and the number of participants in order for the pharmacy to supply proper staffing and complete immunizations in a timely manner.
As far as the billing process goes, Ree said that Bartell Drugs encourages test claims to be done beforehand to ensure that all participants are aware of whether or not there will be a co-pay.
If employees are unable to attend the clinic, employers may choose to hand out flu shot vouchers to be used at any of the 64 Bartell Drugs locations, so employees can still receive their vaccination.
As the flu season approaches, it’s important to let local businesses know that you provide workplace flu clinics.
Bartell Drugs sends letters announcing the service to companies in the area, emails previous participants as a reminder to sign up again and includes the information in news releases.
The CDC also recommends encouraging employers to assist with the promotion of clinics to increase employee participation. They can create posters and flyers, include the information in company communications and use social media channels to spread awareness.
Bartell Drugs credits the success of its workplace flu clinics to the convenience for employers. “They like that their employees don’t have to leave work to get preventative health care, and that there is no downtime or loss in work for the employees,” Ree said.
From a profitability standpoint, Ree said it typically depends on the number of people getting vaccinated. “It is fairly profitable if we are doing clinics for 25 or more people in about two hours,” she said.
Ree recommends independent community pharmacies consider offering workplace flu clinics in their communities because they build awareness for the services and preventative care that the pharmacies provide.
Encourage employers to make the most of a workplace flu clinic with these top tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).