Infection control experts are encouraging staff to give the fight against influenza a shot in the arm.
City of Hope will offer two influenza vaccines free of charge for employees this year: one for seasonal influenza, and the other for the H1N1 (also called swine flu) virus. A flu vaccine clinic is planned for 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 13 at the benefits fair in Cooper Auditorium; further vaccine clinics will be announced in coming weeks through e-mail.
|H1N1 virus is a form of influenza A (Image courtesy Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)|
The medical center’s goal is to enlist at least 80 percent of staff who deal directly with patients to receive the influenza immunizations. About 57 percent of direct patient-care staff received the vaccines in 2008.
“Studies have shown that health-care workers can be a key cause of influenza outbreaks in patient-care settings,” said Annemarie Flood, R.N., infection control coordinator. Health-care workers may bring the virus into the facility and infect vulnerable patients and their families, or carry the virus from infected patients in the facility and transmit it to friends, family and the local community.
Two separate injections are required for the seasonal flu vaccine and the H1N1 vaccine. Infection control staff had hoped to be able to offer both vaccines at once, but the timing of availability means that most employees will receive the shots in two sessions.
Flood encourages staff members who choose not to get vaccinated at City of Hope to receive the vaccine from their primary care physician, local pharmacy or flu-shot clinic. She recommended that staff avoid the live-attenuated FluMist nose spray vaccine or novel H1N1 vaccines, because these use weakened — not inactivated — virus. These vaccine recipients may still shed virus that could harm immunocompromised patients.
For information about influenza, visit www.preventinfluenza.org. The Infection Control Program also offers a wide variety of information to staff on the intranet at www.coh.org/InfectionControl.