Registered nurses are on the front lines of our health care system and play a critical role in preventing and treating the spread of influenza.
It is that time of year again when influenza and immunization is part of your fall health care plan. Encourage annual flu vaccination to keep our state’s flu level low as you are the most trusted profession in the nation.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, from the 1976–77 through the 2006–07 season, estimated influenza-associated deaths ranged from approximately 3,300 to 49,000 annually. Influenza (flu) is a virus that spreads easily through the air by coughing and sneezing, or through physical contact of contaminated surfaces such as doorknobs and countertops. Flu can cause a high fever (usually over 101˚ F), cough, sore throat, headache and muscle aches. This respiratory virus can lead to pneumonia, heart problems and sometimes death. Flu can be very serious for the elderly, pregnant women and babies who often need to be hospitalized if they get flu. Flu is also very serious for people of any age with chronic illnesses.
Routine annual influenza vaccination of all persons aged ≥6 months without contraindications continues to be recommended. No preferential recommendation is made for one influenza vaccine product over another by CDC.
The most recent updated information and guidance from the Washington State Department of Health and CDC includes the following highlights:
- In light of low effectiveness against influenza A (H1N1) pdm09 in the United States during the 2013–14 and 2015–16 seasons, for the 2016–17 season, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) makes the interim recommendation that LAIV4 should not be used. Because LAIV4 is still a licensed vaccine that might be available and that some providers might elect to use, for informational purposes, reference is made to previous recommendations for its use.
- 2016–17 U.S. trivalent influenza vaccines will contain an A/California/7/2009 (H1N1)–like virus, an A/Hong Kong/4801/2014 (H3N2)–like virus and a B/Brisbane/60/2008–like virus (Victoria lineage). Quadrivalent vaccines will include an additional vaccine virus strain, a B/Phuket/3073/2013–like virus (Yamagata lineage).
- Recent new vaccine licensures MF59-adjuvanted trivalent inactivated and quadrivalent formulation of Flucelvax. Read more.
- CDC is recommending that live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV) nasal spray, is NOT recommended for use for any ages during the 2016-2017 flu season in the United States. Recent studies show LAIV, the nasal spray vaccine, doesn’t provide adequate protection against flu disease and illness. Read more.
- According to CDC it is now recommended that influenza vaccination of persons with egg allergy include:
- Removal of the recommendation that egg-allergic recipients should be observed for 30 minutes post vaccination for signs and symptoms of an allergic reaction. Providers should consider observing all patients for 15 minutes after vaccination to decrease the risk for injury should they experience syncope, per the ACIP General Recommendations on Immunization.
- A recommendation that persons with a history of severe allergic reaction to egg (i.e., any symptom other than hives) should be vaccinated in an inpatient or outpatient medical setting (including but not necessarily limited to hospitals, clinics, health departments, and physician offices), under the supervision of a health care provider who is able to recognize and manage severe allergic conditions.
A flu vaccine recommendation and offer from you makes a huge difference. Yearly flu vaccination is recommended for everyone 6 months and older. It is especially important for those at high risk for flu-related complications. Remind patients to get a flu shot. CDC also recommends everyday preventive actions (like staying away from people who are sick, covering coughs and sneezes and frequent handwashing) to help slow the spread of germs that cause respiratory illnesses, like flu.
Protect Yourself as a Health Care Provider
The single most effective way to prevent the spread of disease! Nurses should be sure they, their colleagues, their patients, family and friends wash their hands often using soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
Covering Cough or Sneeze
Use a tissue to cover a cough or sneeze to prevent the spread of infectious droplets.
If You Have Sign / Symptoms of Flu
Stay home if you are ill.
Obtain Vaccine for Seasonal and H1N1 Flu
Public health officials recommend that everyone who is eligible to receive the seasonal flu vaccine should get it every year. If you are eligible to receive H1N1 flu vaccine when it is available, you should get that vaccine as well. You may be able to receive both vaccines at the same time, though the seasonal flu vaccine will be available sooner than the H1N1 vaccine.
Ill persons should stay home and not attend work, school, church, or other social events where they will have close contact with others. If social interaction is unavoidable, ill persons should maintain at a distance of 3 feet and consider wearing a surgical mask.
Avoid Touching Eyes, Nose or Mouth
Germs are spread this way.
Wash a sick person's laundry in hot water and dry it on high. Wear gloves or wash your hands after touching laundry.