Previously, this blog discussed how the United States experienced cases of the flu in epidemic numbers this year. Pandemics can affect any community, and as such, companies must ensure that their business continuity plan accounts for the possibility. Employees can miss work, which could negatively affect daily operations if a contingency plan is not in place.
While 2013 saw many states with record-high levels of flu cases – Boston, Massachusetts declared a state of emergency – recent reports show that infections are finally on the decline. According to HealthDay News, health officials announced last week that while flu activity is still elevated, it has fallen in many parts across the U.S.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that 87 children died from the flu this year, with six deaths reported toward the end of February. Even so, 33 states were listed as having "minimal flu activity," 13 were qualified as "low flu activity" and just four states – Illinois, Michigan, Vermont and Virginia – were listed as "moderate flu activity."
The CDC states that the best prevention against contracting the virus is getting a flu vaccine. The virus' peak months are January and February, and anyone over the age of six months should receive a preventative shot, the CDC said.
Dr. Thomas Talbot, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, told The New York Times that the vaccine's effectiveness can vary from year to year, as flu strains also change.
"Certain populations don't respond as well to the vaccine – the very young and very old, people who are immunosuppressed and women who are pregnant," he said. "People who respond best to the vaccine should be immunized so they don't spread it to others."
Companies that account for the possibility of pandemics – like this year's surge of flu cases – will have a greater likelihood of ensuring quick business resumption should many employees miss work due to illness.