BIRMINGHAM, Ala., Oct. 19, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- American Family Care (AFC), the nation's leading provider of urgent care, accessible primary care, and occupational medicine, announced today it will once again undertake a national campaign to promote flu prevention in the United States. Central to the effort is the company's reprise of its highly successful National Flu Prevention Week, from October 24 to October 30. During this time, flu vaccinations will be offered at little or no cost to new and existing patients visiting AFC clinics.
The World Health Organization estimates that influenza is responsible for between 250,000 and 500,000 deaths globally every year. However, in the wake of AFC's efforts to promote flu shots and reduce the spread of influenza in the workplace during the 2015–2016 season, overall influenza activity in the U.S. was only moderate, with a lower percentage of outpatient visits for influenza-like illness, lower hospitalization rates, and a lower percentage of deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza, compared with the preceding three seasons, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Medical experts agree that the key to replicating last year's moderate flu season is vaccination.
"With more than 160 medical centers in 26 states seeing more than 2 million patients a year, AFC deals with the flu as much or more than any other health care provider outside of the federal government, so we understand the impact it can have on people and their families," said Dr. Jeremy Allen, of American Family Care. "As one of the leading providers of occupational medicine in the U.S., we also understand the effect the flu has on businesses and the economy overall."
Flu Prevention Help for Employers
AFC's National Flu Prevention Week has been designed to provide individuals and businesses with guidance beyond the need to be vaccinated. In addition to providing low-cost or no-cost flu shots at their clinics, AFC has also established guidelines for employers to mitigate the risk of flu in the workplace. Indeed, according to researchers at the CDC, the annual direct costs — hospitalization, doctors' office visits, medications, etc. — of influenza in the U.S. are estimated at $4.6 billion. Additionally, up to 111 million workdays are lost because of influenza — at an estimated cost of $7 billion per year in sick days and lost productivity.
"The flu takes a devastating toll on our nation's workforce," says Allen. "Employers should make sure they give workers time to go get their flu vaccination and step up the cleaning and disinfecting of their facilities to keep the workplace as germ-free as possible."
Flu Prevention Hotline Established
To assist in deploying flu prevention measures in the workplace, AFC has established a hotline specifically for employers interested in curtailing the spread of colds and flu in the weeks and months ahead. Employers seeking help may call (205) 271-5037 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Central time. While supplies last, AFC is also making available workplace readiness kits, which contain items essential to reducing the spread of the influenza virus. These kits include:
- Paper towels – Recent studies show 12 percent of surfaces that looked clean were heavily contaminated, mainly because sponges and cleaning cloths were full of bacteria from a previous wipe-up. Discarding sponges and using paper towels can help keep surfaces germ-free.
- Clorox Healthcare® Hydrogen Peroxide Disinfectant Spray – Especially during the cold and flu season, cleaning crews should use this spray to treat doorknobs, handles, light switches, phones, computer mousses, railings, elevator buttons and escalator rails. Viruses can live up to 48 hours on plastic and stainless steel surfaces.
- Hand sanitizer – Studies find that microbes can be transferred from workers' hands to keyboards, phones and desks. This means that these surfaces may harbor 400 times more germs than the average toilet seat — because they're rarely cleaned.
- Pens galore – Employees should have their own stockpile of pens they don't share with colleagues. Pens carry a ton of germs that are easily transferred when shared.
- Hand sanitizer wipes – Employees should have a pack on their desks, whether to clean their hands or public surfaces.
- Flu Prevention Checklist – Lastly, in addition to the items contained the kit, AFC has also developed a flu prevention checklist for distribution to individual employees — so they can be more knowledgeable themselves.
One Nation. Free From Flu.
To aid their effort, AFC has adopted the slogan, "One Nation. Free from Flu", which will be used across multiple marketing channels to communicate the company's goal for the inaugural year of the campaign. "Given the cost of influenza in human lives and economic impact, governments and health care organizations across the globe need to do a better job to mitigate its toll," said William L. Koleszar, Chief Marketing Officer of American Family Care. "As an industry leader, we have a responsibility to do everything in our power to make a difference — from educating the public, to consulting with employers, and beyond. We believe it's simply the right thing to do."
For more information on National Flu Prevention Week and how to obtain flu vaccinations at little or no cost at participating AFC clinics, visit www.NationalFluPreventionWeek.com.
About American Family Care:
Starting with a single location in 1982, American Family Care has pioneered the concept of non-emergency room urgent care. With its 2013 acquisition of the Doctors Express franchise, AFC has become the nation's leading provider of urgent care, accessible primary care, and occupational medicine, with more than 160 clinics and 500 in-network physicians caring for 2 million patients a year. Ranked by Inc. Magazine as one of the fastest growing companies in the U.S., AFC's stated mission is to provide the best health care possible, in a kind and caring environment, while respecting the rights of all patients, in an economical manner, at times and locations convenient to the patient. For more information, visit www.americanfamilycare.com.
SOURCE American Family Care