Flu shots may keep your lights on this winter

We’re not talking about a medical miracle. But flu shots are an important step CPS Energy is taking again this year to make sure we’re able to keep your lights on and heat flowing.

Flu season is underway, but the peak of the season likely won’t hit until December, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). When the virus hits, it can force healthy people to their beds with fever, muscle aches and sore throats. If the virus spreads fast and unchecked, sick days can put a strain on critical services like public power.

“We have to rearrange schedules every day just for normal sick days. We’re used to doing that,” says Darrell Clifton, senior director of overhead construction services. “In operations, we have to work with what we’re given. We rearrange schedules. We make sure we’re getting the priority work done first. We work with schedules if we have a lot of crews out. We can transfer jobs to another district to make sure we’re meeting our priorities.”

Clifton says roughly 800 people – trouble shooters, linemen, construction personnel and system operators, to name a few areas – have a role in the daily operation of energy delivery. He says the seasonal flu has not been disruptive to normal operations for at least four years. That may be attributable to the proactive measure our team members make every year getting a flu shot.

Flu shots – more than just a health benefit

This year, our Company provided flu shots to more than 1,100 employees – many of them our frontline forces that maintain thousands of miles of poles, wires and gas lines that deliver power to your homes and businesses. Flu shots are a valuable employee health benefit, but they also are an extra layer of immunity for our 24/7/365 business operation.

“As an organization that provides a critical service to our community and customers, it’s important that we are available to meet customers’ needs,” says Lisa Lewis, vice president of People and Culture. “Reducing absenteeism by helping people stay healthy makes good business sense.

“As an employer who cares about the quality of life for our people and their families, we make sure that our health plans provide 100 percent coverage for basic services like annual wellness exams and flu shots, because they are the right things to do.”

Our team members believe in the benefits of a flu shot. No one likes getting shots, so they simply look the other way when the nurse pokes their arm with a needle.

“I get one every year,” says Samuel Owens, of our Northwest Service District. “There’s a lot of stuff out there and I don’t want any of it. I’d rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it.”

By personal preference, Elroy Helmke limits the amount of medications he takes. But he won’t overlook the annual vaccine and says he hasn’t had the flu in the last five years.

“It gives me that insurance,” he says. “It’s worked for me.”

So this winter, when a blue norther and high winds roll in, knocking down tree branches and disrupting power, our team should be available – healthy and ready to roll, restoring your power quickly and safely. And it all may be because we stay prepared by taking preventative measures like flu shots.

Scott Wudel

Scott was part of the Corporate Communications team at CPS Energy.

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