December 6, 2012

Influenza activity increasing in Middle Tennessee

This week is National Influenza Vaccination Week, a national observance that was established to highlight the importance of continuing influenza vaccination as well as fostering greater use of the flu vaccine during the holiday season.

As the number of influenza cases is increasing throughout Middle Tennessee, the Department of Infection Control and Prevention and the Occupational Health Clinic offer the following information to all Medical Center faculty and staff.

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) Get yourself vaccinated: All VUMC faculty and staff are strongly encouraged to get an influenza vaccination (Vanderbilt faculty/staff ID badge required) at the Occupational Health Clinic, 640 Medical Arts Building, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays and at all offsite vaccination events (more information available at occupationalhealth.vanderbilt.edu).

3) Vaccinate your patients: Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, all persons over age 6 months should receive an annual influenza 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 respiratory syncytial virus.

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

6) Don’t visit/work if ill:

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

b. 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 over 100°F and respiratory symptoms, you should not work until you are without a fever for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medicine.

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 & Prevention’s website, www.mc.vanderbilt.edu/infectioncontrol.