Fighting the Flu - Keeping Healthcare Workers Safe
Fighting the Flu
The influenza season is off to a fast start nationwide and shows little signs of slowing down, with reports that the flu vaccine is becoming increasingly harder to find than it was earlier in the season. Although there have been reports that the flu season may have already peaked in some parts of the country, experts continue to advise providers to encourage their patients to get vaccinated against seasonal influenza as soon as possible.
According to the CDC report FluView, 47 states reported widespread geographic influenza activity during the first week of 2013, which is six more than the previous week. The effectiveness of the current seasonal influenza vaccine stands at 62%. Of the 3,710 laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated hospitalizations reported since October, 2012, the highest rate (46%) is among people 65 and older.
Keeping Healthcare Workers Healthy
The CDC, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), and the Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee (HICPAC) recommend that all U.S. healthcare workers get vaccinated annually against influenza. These workers include physicians, nurses, nursing assistants, therapists, technicians, emergency medical personnel, dental personnel, pharmacists, lab personnel, students and trainees, and contractual staff not employed by the healthcare facility.
Because healthcare-associated influenza infections can occur in any healthcare setting and are most common when influenza is circulating in the community, it is recommended that influenza prevention measures be implemented in all healthcare settings. According to the CDC, supplemental measures may need to be implemented during influenza seasons if outbreaks of healthcare-associated influenza occur within certain facilities, such as long-term care (LTC) facilities and hospitals.
There's an App for That!
The CDC Influenza application for clinicians and other healthcare professionals makes it easier to find CDC’s latest recommendations and influenza activity updates on your iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch. When your mobile device is connected to the Internet, new information and content, including vaccination recommendations, videos, and other resources, is updated automatically. You can even share the information with others through social media such as Facebook and Twitter
Finding the Vaccine
Encourage not only your patients, but also your staff to get the influenza vaccine if they have not already done so. They can visit www.flu.gov and use the Flu Vaccine Finder that will help your patients find flu clinics near their homes. HQSI offers additional information about immunizations, and even includes helpful resources for your practices, such as the posters below.