Business Travellers and Flu -- Time to Act

- Companies expect flu to have more of an impact on business than Ebola
- Individuals advised to have vaccine as flu is predictable and preventable
2014-11-17 13:30 2382

BEIJING, Nov. 17, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Employees, business travellers and expatriates are being advised to make sure they get vaccinated during the Northern Hemisphere's flu season.

Influenza (the flu) is one of the most common vaccine-preventable diseases among travellers. It can be mild to severe in nature, and sometimes leads to serious complications.

In many countries it is one of the biggest causes of short term illness. For employers, sickness absence can have a significant business impact.

Flu 'more likely' to impact on business than Ebola

A recent survey of leading companies, conducted by International SOS in the United States, has found a large majority (83%) expect the flu to have more of an impact on their business than Ebola in the coming months. The survey canvassed the opinions of more than 300 companies -- including many Fortune 500 businesses - that are responding to the Ebola outbreak.

The US Government advises that during each flu season 111 million workdays are lost, costing approximately $7 billion a year in sick days and lost productivity in the US.

To reduce the chances of developing influenza, all travellers should be vaccinated annually. The risk of exposure to influenza depends on the time of year and destination.

  • In the Northern Hemisphere, the flu season generally ranges from November through March.
  • In the Southern Hemisphere, most activity occurs from April through September.
  • In the tropics, the risk of exposure exists throughout the year.

Dr Gordon Peters, Medical Director at International SOS North Asia said:

"If organisations are considering a plan to vaccinate staff -- now is the time to act.

The vaccine is effective in preventing influenza among healthy adults. Vaccinating a workforce can have a noticeable, positive impact on an organisation's lost hours due to sickness.

There are many unknown factors that affect business continuity, but flu is predictable and preventable."

Flu spreads from one person to another through coughing, sneezing and talking. Someone who has the flu may pass the illness to others even before they show signs of being sick and may remain contagious for about a week. People with underlying health conditions, as well as older adults and young children, are at higher risk of severe complications from flu.

Although there are antiviral medications, which are generally used to treat people more likely to get a severe illness, vaccination remains important to prevent flu. Vaccination needs to be repeated annually, as flu viruses change. One year's vaccine is not necessarily effective against the viruses that will circulate widely the next year.

About International SOS

International SOS ( is the world's leading medical and travel security risk services company. We care for clients across the globe, from more than 700 locations in 89 countries. Our expertise is unique: More than 11,000 employees are led by 1,200 doctors and 200 security specialists. Teams work night and day to protect our members.

We have pioneered a range of preventative programmes and offer an unparalleled response to emergencies. We are passionate about helping clients put 'Duty of Care' into practice. With us multinational corporate clients, governments and NGOs can mitigate risks for their people working remotely or overseas. 

Source: International SOS