Survey Finds Huge Impact of Flu Each Year

 September 21, 2011 ( - A recent survey conducted by Walgreens found that the last flu season resulted in 100 million lost works days, $7 billion in lost wages, and 32 million missed school days. 


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in an average year, 13% of the U.S. population gets the flu, with an active flu season infecting closer to 20%, or more than 62 million Americans.

Walgreens reports that in addition to the 100 million work days lost due to flu-related illness last season, more than one-third of those days would have been uncompensated with the costs borne by the employee, resulting in $6.8 billion in lost wages.

When it comes to sick time and employers’ costs, nearly two-thirds of total missed work days would have been employer-paid, resulting in a cost of more than $10 billion to companies’ bottom lines due to lost productivity. In addition to missed workdays, nearly 2 million business trips were canceled last season, based on survey projections.

And while some followed doctor recommendations and stayed home from work while sick, an overwhelming majority – nearly 80% of those surveyed who got the flu last season – say they at some point still went into work. As for “worker’s remorse,” 60 % were at least fairly concerned they would expose others to illness.

The 32 million school days missed by sick children can also translate to missed work days and other challenges for their parents, Walgreens discussed in its report. More than one-third of respondents with children say they need to make alternative childcare arrangements when their children are sick, while 40% would need to take time off from work to care for a sick child.

Taking into account missed workdays, all or parts of vacations, childcare costs, doctor visits and other related costs, nearly one-third of respondents spent between $251 and $1,000 on treating the flu last season.

The Walgreens survey was conducted September 1-8, 2011, and included 1,200 Americans age 18 or over.