Every year, the flu season takes its toll in deaths, hospitalizations, reduced productivity and other costs associated with infection.

Although vaccination could significantly reduce these harms, only about 46 percent of people in our country get vaccinated against influenza. Unfortunately, other recommended adult vaccinations have similarly low rates.

Root of concern

Convenience could play a major role in increasing vaccination rates. How often do people intend to get vaccinated but then fail to do so, simply because they didn’t find the vaccine readily available? In fact, there is enough vaccine; our country has more than 170 million doses of flu vaccine available this season. It’s up to us to make these life-saving vaccines more readily available and conveniently accessible.

We can improve vaccine access by making adult vaccines available beyond the doctor’s office. Vaccination services for adults need to be where adults are. We are beginning to see more adult vaccines being offered in pharmacies, but we should not stop there.

More touch points

Multiple locations could be convenient stops for flu and other adult vaccinations. Places of employment are excellent sites to offer vaccines. Benefits abound for employers who protect their staffs from influenza. Each episode of flu translates into 5 to 6 days of illness and between a half-day and five days of work missed, resulting in reduced productivity for the company.

Additionally, when someone is infected with the flu, they are able to spread the disease for up to 24 hours before they show symptoms. This may threaten the health of other employees around them. Finally, flu does financial as well as physical harm. It is estimated that influenza can cost businesses $10.4 billion in direct costs for employee hospitalizations and adult outpatient visits every year. When employers make a concerted effort to improve the convenience of getting flu vaccine for their employees by offering immunizations on-site, they benefit their bottom line as well as employee health.

Community health

Community gathering places are also excellent locations to receive vaccines. Community centers, places of religious worship and the local Y are all great examples of locations where immunizations can be given. Higher rates of vaccination within the community lead to reduced disease transmission. This results in an overall improvement in health.

There is now an online tool to help locate places where anyone can get flu and other adult vaccines: the Adult Vaccine Locator. This tool identifies all locations close to an entered zip code where flu and other adult vaccines are available. Use it to get your flu vaccine now! And while you are at it, make sure you are up to date with your other recommended vaccines. Protect yourself, your family and your community.