Seasonal influenza is often referred to simply as “the flu.” It is caused by influenza viruses, which target respiratory areas such as the nose, throat, and lungs. This virus can cause severe illness and even life-threatening complications.
Influenza is a serious disease that is associated with high rates of sickness and death. In the United States, an estimated 5 to 15 percent of the population is affected by the virus each year. Influenza infections result in approximately 150,000 hospital admissions and 24,000 deaths annually. A recent study estimated that annual influenza epidemics account for 610,660 life-years lost, 3.1 million days of hospitalization and 31.4 million outpatient visits.
What you can do:
The most efficient way to prevent annual influenza epidemics and their associated morbidity and mortality is through pre-exposure vaccination. In addition to their risk for exposure to influenza from friends, family, and community sources, healthcare personnel (HCP) are at an increased risk for acquiring influenza due to their exposure to ill patients.
Seasonal influenza vaccination of HCP offers an important method for preventing the spread of influenza to high-risk patients. Evidence supports the fact that influenza vaccine is effective, cost efficient, and successful in reducing sickness and deaths. Evidence also demonstrates that the current policy of voluntary vaccination has not been effective in achieving acceptable vaccination rates.
As healthcare personnel, you have an obligation to ensure you are vaccinated. This is not only a patient safety imperative, but is a moral and ethical obligation to those who place their trust in your care.
Learn more and share:
- Influenza Vaccination Should Be a Condition of Employment for Healthcare Personnel, Unless Medically Contraindicated—APIC Position Paper
- Key Facts About Seasonal Flu Vaccine—The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Seasonal Influenza: Flu Basics—The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Influenza fact sheet—World Health Organization