Nurses and other health professionals are busy every day taking vitals, administering medication and providing care for their patients in one hundred other ways. But too often, they can neglect to give themselves that same quality of care. During flu season in particular, it is vital that health care providers make sure that they're giving their bodies the best chance at fighting off sickness.
On Oct. 27, the American Nurses Association posted a news release to encourage nurses to get the flu vaccination annually and advise their patients to do the same. The announcement reported that the vaccination is the safest way for nurses to protect themselves, their patients and the public from influenza.
The 2015-16 flu season
While it is impossible to predict the severity of a flu season, it is likely that this fall and winter will bring their fair share of the sickness. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this year's flu season was expected to start as early as last month and could continue through May of 2016. To address threats that are expected this season, the CDC reported that both trivalent – or three component – and quadrivalent – or four component – influenza vaccines will be available through manufacturers in the private sector. It is projected that between 171 and 179 million doses will be available across the U.S.
Because the flu vaccination wears off over time and each season brings threats from slightly different strains, the CDC continued to advise people to get the vaccination this season even if they received it last year.
"Anyone who works in health care should receive the vaccination."
A high risk of exposure
Those who work in health care are not immune to this seasonal sickness. In fact, the profession can lead to greater exposure to those already infected with influenza, leading to increased risk. The CDC, Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and the Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee all strongly recommended that anyone who works in health care should receive the vaccination every year.
The ANA supplemented its news release with a video from ANA President Pam Cipriano. In the clip, Cipriano urged nurses to get the vaccination to protect themselves and their patients from the spread of influenza while they deliver care at work. However, she also stated that the ANA supports exemptions from the immunization for health or religious reasons.
The flu vaccination isn't the only step that nurses and other health professionals can take to protect themselves – and their patients – from coming down with the bug. Patients and care givers alike should wash their hands regularly with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, particularly before touching their mouths or other areas of the face. Providers should also stay home if they come down with influenza to avoid spreading the sickness to patients and other employees.