So many cool things are made in North Carolina. Influenza vaccines made by Seqirus – manufactured, tested, and released from a state-of-the-art facility in Holly Springs, NC – are certainly something to celebrate. As our state, our nation, and our world battled the COVID-19 pandemic, flu shots shielded us from facing a twindemic – an acute flu season intersecting with a surge in COVID cases – during the fall and winter last year.
Seqirus is preparing, though, for a future influenza pandemic. The Holly Springs plant was purpose-built in partnership with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services office to combat pandemic influenza threats. The BARDA partnership is in place to ensure Seqirus is well positioned to supply up to 150 million doses of pandemic flu vaccine within six months of a pandemic declaration. The highly transmissible influenza virus mutates frequently, which means Seqirus must manufacture new flu vaccines twice a year (for the Northern and Southern Hemispheres).
Working through COVID to protect people from another deadly virus.
Seqirus’ employees, 800+ of which are on the front line in Holly Springs, share a unique bond of working during a pandemic. COVID drove the dynamic company’s agility to the next level as its workforce continuously welcomed their opportunity to produce a lifesaving shot to safeguard millions of people worldwide.
“Every employee believes in the mission. At times, COVID feels like an uncontrollable force. At Seqirus, we have control over averting a potential twindemic,” said Dave Sehgal, Ph.D., Holly Springs Site Head and Executive Director, Manufacturing at Seqirus. “Each day we go to work, we embrace the chance to advance flu vaccines with the hope that health care providers are less inundated, and we can continue to improve public health around the world.”
That common bond ensures empathy prevails at every level of the organization. As Seqirus is committed to improving public health, the company is also focused on supporting the mental health of employees. The pressures that surface, while successfully working through COVID to protect people from another deadly virus, make work/life balance challenging – yet more critical than ever. Seqirus developed a variety of resources for employees including the “Find Your Balance” program to help them proactively manage stress. The company also participates in virtual events for staff such as the “walk where you are” 2021 Heart Walk to support the American Heart Association.
Engaging employees in conversations about vaccines.
Of the organizations positioned to provide expertise and guidance for encouraging people to get vaccinated, Seqirus is at the top. When asked about tips for employers who are engaging with employees experiencing COVID-19 vaccine fears, Dave Sehgal suggests starting with the “why.” Why is the employee feeling hesitant about receiving the vaccine? This is the time for employers to listen and address each concern with transparency and honesty. Help the employee understand why the vaccine is essential to their health and safety. In addition to prioritizing active listening across the organization, Seqirus hosted multiple COVID-19 vaccine clinics at their Holly Springs facility and have provided more than 300 doses to date. The company also convenes an annual flu shot clinic for employees and their families, where they administer the influenza vaccine manufactured onsite.
In October, the NC Chamber coordinated a flu shot clinic at its office for staff and their families to receive the Flucelvax Influenza Vaccine by Seqirus. We are grateful for all the ways North Carolina businesses are reducing burdens on health care providers while protecting lives and livelihoods statewide – and around the world.
Behind each business in North Carolina are the ideas, partnerships, and people that fuel our state’s success. Behind each business is a story and a vision for the future. As the voice for business, the NC Chamber is committed to telling these stories and highlighting the organizations that keep our state moving forward. Behind the Business is a series of profiles featuring NC Chamber Cornerstone members doing great work in North Carolina. Interested in being featured? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.