January, 11, 2011

Influenza Activity Increasing in Tennessee

Influenza activity has increased throughout Middle Tennessee and neighboring states. 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. While it takes a few weeks for the vaccine to begin to work, there is still time. Flu vaccine is still available for all Vanderbilt University and Medical Center 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 www.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. Consider testing these patients for influenza using the nasal antigen test.
5) Advise visitors if they have any flu-like symptoms to please visit at another time when they are feeling well.
6) 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.

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