March 3, 2011

Influenza Activity Continues to Increase at VUMC

Vanderbilt University Medical Center has seen an increase in patients admitted with serious flu infections recently.

This year the flu vaccine is recommended for everyone over 6 months of age. Health care workers are at especially increased risk of flu, and should not forget that H1N1 infections can be deadly, even in young healthy adults.

You can help prevent the spread of influenza by doing the following:

1) Wash your hands with soap and water or alcohol-based gel or foam before entry and after exit of the patient’s environment.

2) We have an ample supply of influenza vaccine. If not already vaccinated, you should get an influenza vaccination. Flu vaccine is still available for all Vanderbilt faculty and staff (Vanderbilt faculty/staff ID badge required) at the Occupational Health Clinic, 640 Medical Arts Building, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. weekdays and at all offsite vaccination events. See occupationalhealth.vanderbilt.edu for the off-site vaccine schedule.

3) Vaccinate your patients against influenza. The CDC now recommends that all persons over age 6 months receive an annual flu vaccine.

4) Isolate patients early. Place adult patients with fever and respiratory symptoms (cough, runny nose, sore throat) into droplet precautions (wear a surgical mask upon room entry) and children into droplet and contact precautions due to the high frequency of illness caused by other respiratory viruses such as RSV. Consider testing these patients for influenza using the nasal antigen test.

5) Guidance on antiviral treatment against influenza may be found at http://www.cdc.gov/flu/professionals/antivirals/index.htm.

6) Advise visitors if they have any flu-like symptoms to please visit at another time when they are feeling well.

7) Any health care workers with respiratory symptoms should wear a surgical mask when in the patient’s environment (e.g. room, stretcher bay). If you have a fever above 100°F and respiratory symptoms, you should not work until your fever has been gone for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medicine.

 

It's not too late to get a flu shots. Flu shots continue at the Occupational Health Clinic, new staff orientation events, and all OHC Comes to You events.

For more updates on the employee flu vaccination program, check the Occupational Health Clinic's website at occupationalhealth.vanderbilt.edu.

For information on how to protect yourself and your patients from influenza, check the Department of Infection Control and Prevention’s website, www.mc.vanderbilt.edu/infectioncontrol.