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The Great Smoky Mountain Journal

Source:  Fox News

Posted: Tuesday, January 01, 2019 02:24 PM

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Employers Say Flu Season Could Cost Taxpayers Nearly $10B

Employers across the country are getting pounded as this year’s flu season continues to rapidly spread, claiming a record amount of lives as well as sick days, which could cost businesses nearly $10 billion.

“Previous estimates pin the number of lost productivity to employers to about $7 billion, according to the CDC. We estimate the cost to employers will be over $9.4 billion, using wages and the number of employed,” Andrew Challenger, vice president of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, a global outplacement and executive coaching firm, told FOX Business.

The company said it arrived at its estimate by looking at the number of illnesses for those over the age of 18 in the previous flu season with the current employment population of 60.1% at the average hourly wage of $26.63.

“With over 11 million estimated employed adults missing four eight-hour shifts, the cost to employers could reach $9,415,586,823.84,” the company said in a statement.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), said this year’s massive outbreak is a result of the dreaded H3N2, which is a particularly aggressive strain of the influenza that isn’t currently “very well-matched” with the vaccines that are being distributed across the country.

“In the making of the vaccine as it was being grown in eggs (which is the main way that we make vaccines), it got mutated a bit, so it drifted away from a really, really good match,” Fauci told FOX Business, adding that the overall effectiveness of the vaccines could only be around 30% this year.