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Survey Describes Impact of 2012–2013 Flu Season

Americans lost $8.5 billion in wages (October 16)

The 2012–2013 flu season was one of the most severe in the U.S. in more than a decade and, according to a new survey, had two to three times the impact of a typical flu season on the workplace, school, family, and other segments of people’s everyday lives. The new report from pharmacy chain Walgreens suggests that U.S. adults missed 230 million work days last season and children lost more than 90 million school days because of flu-related illness. By contrast, 100 million workdays and 32 million schooldays were missed during the 2010–2011 flu season.

Nationally, the report suggests that the flu-related cost to employers in 2012–2013 was $30.4 billion, three times the $10.5 billion impact in 2010–2011. Moreover, employees who missed time at work because of flu-related illness lost more than $8.5 billion in wages. Employees missed, on average, 3 days of work in 2012–2013, compared with an average of 1 day during the 2010–2011 season.

Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that people get a flu shot as soon as the vaccine becomes available (typically in August):

  • Nearly one-third (31%) of the 2012–2013 survey respondents waited until November or later to get their vaccine.
  • Walgreens data show that 20% of the 7 million flu shots administered at Walgreens last season were administered in January.
  • Nearly 80% of Americans believe that it takes 10 days or less, after receiving the flu shot, for the body to build up full immunity; in reality, it takes up to 14 days.

The survey was conducted online within the U.S. from August 27 to September 4, 2013, among 1,200 nationally representative adults aged 18 years and older.

Source: Walgreens; October 16, 2013.

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