Occupational Health Watch: February 2021
Two diseases. Two vaccines. Two ways to protect workers during COVID-19.
This issue highlights the benefits of having workers get both the COVID-19 and seasonal influenza vaccines. While there are compelling reasons for workers to get either vaccine, best practice is for workers to get both as soon as possible.
Getting a COVID-19 vaccine is one of the most important ways to stop the pandemic. The vaccine is highly effective at preventing COVID-19 and may protect those who do get COVID-19 infection from serious illness. The vaccine benefits businesses by cutting down on sick leave and is expected to reduce the number of additional workers getting exposed at work. Encourage employees to contact their local health department for information on when and how to get the vaccine.
Employers’ COVID-19 responsibilities don’t change just because employees were vaccinated. The COVID-19 vaccine reduces serious illness and symptoms, but we are still learning whether you can spread the virus after getting the vaccine. Also, it will take time before all employees have a chance to be vaccinated. Employers need to continue to enforce face coverings, physical distancing, and other COVID protections, and must take quick action when anyone in the workplace has COVID-19.
Seasonal influenza (flu) vaccine
In addition to recommending that employees receive COVID-19 vaccination as soon as they become eligible, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that getting a flu shot will reduce the number of flu-related hospitalizations and healthcare visits among workers, spread of flu during the COVID-19 pandemic, and stress on the healthcare system.
Flu season usually peaks in winter but can continue through May. Since flu can lower the body’s defenses to other infections, such as COVID-19, getting a flu shot is an easy and effective way for workers to stay healthy and strong during the pandemic. Some flu symptoms are similar to those of COVID-19. Getting flu vaccine will decrease the likelihood employees will miss work or require COVID-19 tests should they have flu symptoms that might be COVID-19.
Employers should encourage their employees to get both vaccinations. Ways to do this are:
- Promoting flu and COVID-19 vaccine resources to employees
- Offering flexible schedules to allow employees time to get the vaccines
- Offering employer-sponsored vaccination clinics
- Using social media networks to promote vaccination
CDC advises that the COVID-19 vaccines should routinely be administered alone, at least 14 days before or after any other vaccine.
California COVID-19 vaccine home page – general info about the vaccine and its benefits, vaccination progress in the state, outreach materials, questions and answers
Vaccinate All 58 - download CA COVID-19 vaccine resources and materials in multiple languages (requires Google Drive)
Promoting Vaccination in the Workplace – CDC webpage for employers with guidance for flu vaccine clinics, downloadable materials, etc.
Vaccine finder website – find a flu vaccine provider in your area
Guidance on Influenza Immunization During COVID-19 Pandemic (PDF) – CDPH-Cal/OSHA factsheet for health care & other workers covered under the Aerosol Transmissible Diseases (ATD) Standard
MyTurn – find out if it's your turn to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and schedule COVID-19 shot appointments
This update was produced as
a collaboration between the Occupational Health Branch and the CDPH Immunization Branch.
Email OHW@cdph.ca.gov with feedback about this update or change of address.