Can Catching The Flu be Your Most Expensive Travel Spend This Year?

Flu Season and Business Travel

The sneezing and coughing you hear from the aisle next to you is a sign that flu season is upon us once more. This means it’s time to get your flu shot again. While nobody Aims to get sick, travelling during the peak of flu season has some serious consequences outside of a fever and running nose. Hearing what these are should make you think twice about skipping your flu vaccine this year.

How Expensive is Catching The Flu?

First, about $87.1 billion is deducted annually from the U.S. economy due to influenza, with businesses feeling about $16.3 billion of that. While you may not be wracked with personal guilt about calling in sick or missing out on a business meeting, that  $16 billion-particularly in a weak economy-can mean the difference between having a job today and applying for unemployment benefits next year.  Last year, Americans called in more than 70 million sick days due to the flu.

Vaccination Solutions

Many business travelers are not thrilled at the idea getting an annual flu vaccine. In all honesty, the vaccine is a cocktail of the most common influenza virus strains that may be most prevalent during the flu season. It’s a calculated guess, not a guarantee that you won’t get the flu. Also, some people feel strong as an ox and don’t believe their chance of catching the flu is very high. Then there are numerous anecdotes of how the flu shot got someone sick or how ineffective it really is

 However, the repercussions of getting the virus while travelling should give you cause to pause and think about being vaccinated. First, the average cost of a flu shot is $35 per person, which is often covered by health insurance, and is easily available from drug stores like Rite Aid, local health departments and physicians. Overall, this cost is a trifle when compared to what contracting the flu could cost you.

Out of Pocket Costs

If the flu is detected early on, a doctor may prescribe an anti-viral medication like Relenza or Tamiflu. These medications are only prescribed within the first 48 hours of the flu. As of this writing there is no generic version of Tamiflu, and uninsured patients can anticipate paying over $100 per 10-day dose. When it comes to the out of pocket cost of getting sick, you can also look forward to the annual CVS pharmacy shopping trip.  The average American can anticipate spending from10-80$ on over the counter (OTC) medications, depending on the severity of symptoms. The most popular OTC items purchased range from tissues to cough medications.  All told one-third of flu sufferers will spend between $250 and $1,000 during the recovery process

 Add to all this the loss of valuable productive time and income and you can see a no win situation developing. This gets even worse if you a need to be hospitalized, which is a real possibility. Perhaps, the most frightening statistic from the flu is the cost of life. The numbers vary-due to data discrepancies in the field- but the CDC estimates between 4,000 and 40,000flu-associated deaths each year.

The Bottom Line

Don’t even think about skipping your annual flu vaccine this season. It’s a tangible investment, both for your pocketbook and your health. The minimal cost of getting a shot is small compared to the potential losses you could incur by contracting the virus.

Special thanks: Investopedia.com

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