A proactive approach to local and international disease threats is an essential and often overlooked safeguard to business productivity and duty of care. Human capital is arguably worth more to a business than tangible assets, because it is often the key competitive advantage that distinguishes a business in the marketplace. Infectious diseases are a constant threat to productivity, since they erode and diminish human capital. However, businesses who monitor infectious disease threats and couple this with a proactive healthcare approach are often able to avoid such threats to productivity.
Vaccinations and Herd Immunity
While vaccinations are important to protect individual human capital, they are critical for broader, continued corporate productivity. Vaccinations have a direct effect on individuals by providing them with a defense, or immunity, against disease. Yet, vaccinations also have an indirect protective effect on other individuals in the corporate setting. For example, when a high proportion of employees are vaccinated, they potentially prevent the spread of disease within the workplace by establishing a protective barrier around those who are not vaccinated and/or have not built up sufficient defenses against disease. In the science community, we call this concept herd immunity.
The modern corporate workplace is threatened by local and international infectious diseases. Local disease outbreaks have the potential to expose a high proportion of employees to an infectious disease; therefore, herd immunity is extremely important for maintaining a corporate protective barrier against outbreaks. Corporate health is equally jeopardized by international disease threats when unprotected individual employees travel abroad. Upon return, those employees can threaten productivity by exposing others to the imported infectious agent.
International Travelers & Recommended Vaccinations
International travelers regardless of their destination should ensure that they are up to date on the vaccines listed below. It is important to note that healthcare providers will likely add additional vaccinations to those listed below, such as yellow fever and Japanese encephalitis, if these vaccines are required by the traveler's host country and/or if the disease is endemic in the destination country. Furthermore, employers should encourage all international travelers to contact a physician who has expertise in travel medicine four to six weeks prior to travel. This will allow enough time for the traveler to complete any vaccine series as well as give their body time to build up immunity.
- Chickenpox (Varicella): Recommended for travelers without a history of chickenpox or evidence of immunity to chickenpox by blood test. This vaccine is administered as a two-dose series.
- Hepatitis A: This vaccine is included in routine children’s immunizations. The Hepatitis A vaccination is most important for travelers who are traveling to countries with an intermediate to high prevalence of Hepatitis A. This vaccine is administered as a two-dose series. A Hepatitis A/Hepatitis B combined vaccine is also available.
- Hepatitis B: Recommended for all unvaccinated persons who might be exposed to blood or body fluids, have sexual contact with the local population, or be exposed through medical treatment, such as for an accident, even in developed countries, and for all adults requesting protection from HBV infection. The Hepatitis B vaccination is most important for travelers who are traveling to countries with an intermediate-to-high prevalence of Hepatitis B. This vaccine is administered as a three-dose series. A Hepatitis A/ Hepatitis B combined vaccine is also available.
- Influenza: Recommended for all travelers over the age 50, very young children, and/or travelers of all ages who have a chronic disease such as diabetes or emphysema. This vaccination is administered annually.
- Measles, mumps, rubella (MMR): Recommended for travelers born after 1957, and those who did not have these diseases as children. People born before 1957 generally acquired immunity to these diseases in childhood. This vaccine is administered as a two-dose series.
- Pertussis (Whooping Cough): This vaccine is included in routine children’s immunizations with tetanus and diphtheria (see below). It is also now available for adults in combination with the tetanus/ diphtheria booster.
- Pneumococcal pneumonia: Recommended for all adults over age 65, and anyone with chronic disease. Physicians in the US also recommend this vaccination for smokers and anyone with asthma.
- Tetanus and diphtheria: A booster is recommended every 10 years after initial immunization series.
Infectious diseases have the potential to greatly impact business productivity by eroding and diminishing human capital on an individual and corporate level. Since infectious diseases are a constant threat to the bottom line of every business, it is imperative that businesses monitor local and international disease threats, and adopt proactive healthcare measures. For that reason, thoughtful proactive disease prevention protocols are key to eliminating threats posed by local and international infectious diseases.
To learn more about how health inelligence can help protect your corporate workplace and global travelers from disease threats, download a copy of our white paper, The Value of Health Intelligence.