KUALA LUMPUR 10 MARCH 2020 : Last December, the world woke up to the COVID- 19 outbreak and in the blink of an eye, global numbers of confirmed cases of the pandemic has surpassed 100,000. This outbreak has definitely broken the complacency of the public on viral illness. Another such acute contagious disease that needs serious attention is influenza. Our nation was affected by this disease in early January this year which saw the closing of several schools across Klang Valley and Penang.
This seasonal outbreak should not only concern the general public, but also the corporate employers and HR managers because a recent Health Metrics study across four Malaysian industries (education, F&B, manufacturing and production, and financial services) has revealed this to be the most frequently recurring illness in the country, making up 47% of overall employee visits to clinics.
"One sick employee can suddenly spike to become a handful or more and that damages theproductivity of the employees and company, not to mention their families”, says Dr. Alvin Lum, the CEO of Magnitude Healthcare.
Speaking to us during an exclusive interview, Dr. Alvin highlighted that when an employee gets sick, he or she bears the risk of infecting family members when they stay at home or other employees when they come to office.
“It is critical that we focus attention on the importance of a sustained yearly influenza vaccination effort to protect as many people as possible.” he added
Comparing the illness with the common cold, Dr. Alvin explained that Influenza is categorised as A and B, and is contracted through droplets in the air. The common symptoms include sudden onset of of fever, cough (usually dry), headache, muscle and joint pain, sore throat and a runny nose.
After vaccination, it takes a minimum two weeks for the antibodies to develop in the body by the flu vaccines.
“Annual flu vaccination is the most effective healthcare measure to protect against a flu infection and its complications. It will definitely alleviate the human and financial cost at workplace. " said Dr. Alvin.
Launching their "Influenza Vaccination at Workplace" campaign this month, Magnitude Healthcare intends to increase vaccination coverage among employees at workplace through their on-site immunisation programmes. Among the initiative of the campaign is to reach out to a good section of the employees as early as possible.
The company foresees that this outreach campaign will be a success with the cooperation of the HR Departments. HR Departments can raise awareness among employees by educating them on the seriousness of the virus, and advise employees on vaccinations for themselves and even their families. HR Departments plays a pivotal role in increasing the productivity of the company, hence they can set aside time for employees to get the shots, either in the clinic or at their offices.
When asked about the availability of vaccine supplies in government healthcare facilities in Malaysia, Dr. Alvin said due to the limited stock, the public healthcare facilities only administers the vaccines to their frontline staff and patients in the vulnerable group that includes pregnant women, young children and those suffering from chronic illness. Many private centres also have limited stocks of the vaccines. As such, early bookings for corporate drives are essential.
Dr Alvin informed that if the companies want their employees to be vaccinated at their work site, Magnitude Healthcare will be able to send trained healthcare staff to their place for vaccination. It is the most easy and accessible way for vaccination. Moreover, the side effects of flu vaccination are normally minimal, with slight fever, muscle-aches and soreness being the most common.