It’s no secret that we are in the peak of flu season! Whether you are a nurse, primary care physician, or healthcare professional you are not only susceptible to the virus itself, but you also play a significant role in helping to protect patients against influenza. The CDC recommends that all healthcare workers get vaccinated annually against influenza, as it is the best way to prevent the flu. They also recommend a yearly flu vaccine for all individuals ages 6 months and older.
What is the flu?
Influenza (Flu) is a contagious respiratory illness that can infect the nose, throat, and sometimes the lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness, and can even lead to death.
How is it spread?
The virus is believed to be spread through tiny droplets made when infected individuals cough, sneeze, or talk. These droplets land in the mouths or noses of those who are nearby. An individual can often spread the flu virus before they know they are sick. Those infected with the flu are most contagious in the first 3-4 days after their illness begins.
How can you prevent the flu?
- According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the best way to prevent influenza is by getting a flu vaccine each year.
- Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
- If you are sick with flu-like illness, CDC recommends staying home for 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or other necessities.
- Always, cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. After using a tissue, throw it in the trash and wash your hands.
- Wash your hands with soap and water often. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated.
- CDC estimates that flu has resulted in between 9.3 million and 49 million illnesses each year in the United States since 2010
- Since 2010, CDC estimates that flu has resulted in between 140,000 and 960,000 hospitalizations each year
- CDC estimates that from 2010-2018, influenza-associated deaths in the United States ranged from a low of 12,000 (2011) to a high of 79,000 (2018).
- CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older.
- Flu vaccines CANNOT cause the flu.
- Flu vaccines are safe. Serious problems from a flu vaccine are very rare.
- CDC, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), and the Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee (HICPAC) recommends that all U.S. health care workers get vaccinated annually against influenza.