Keeping residents safe during flu season

According to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there have been more than 3 million flu cases in America since October. The Southeastern region of the nation has had strong influenza activity with states like Alabama and Tennessee reporting numbers that are above the agency’s “threshold of concern.” For example, in Alabama, 1 in 20 people are visiting the doctor with flu-like illnesses.

Older adults, especially those living in long-term healthcare settings, are vulnerable to flu infections and serious complications. To protect against flu and its potential complications, the CDC recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older get a seasonal flu vaccine each year by the end of October. However, latecomers can still reap the benefits and can experience greater immunity as the season wears on. A flu shot can prevent or significantly reduce the duration and severity of influenza infection.

Vaccines for older adults

Only injectable flu vaccines have been approved for use in past seasons. Nasal vaccines are not recommended for older adults. According to the CDC, there are regular flu shots that are approved for use in people 65 and older and there also are two vaccines designed specifically for people 65 and older:

High Dose Flu Vaccine: This vaccine contains four times the amount of influenza antigen as a regular flu shot. It is supposed to result in a better immune response for older people. In clinical studies, the high dose vaccine has been found to be more effective than standard-dose vaccines in preventing the flu for seniors and lowered the risk of complications. It has been approved for use in the United States since 2009.

Adjuvanted Flu Vaccine: The adjuvanted flu vaccine, Fluad, is made with an additive that creates a stronger immune response to flu vaccination. A Canadian study of 282 people 65 and older found that Fluad was 63 percent more effective than regular dose flu shots without the additive. This vaccine has been available in the U.S. since the 2016-2017 flu season.

The high dose and adjuvanted flu vaccines may result in more of the mild side effects that can occur with standard-dose seasonal shots, such as pain, redness or swelling at the injection site, headache, muscle ache, and malaise.

Keep it from spreading

In addition to vaccines, the CDC recommends some standard precautions to reduce the spread of flu infection in healthcare settings. During a suspected flu outbreak in a facility, examples of standard precautions include:

Performing hand hygiene before and after touching the resident, after touching the resident’s environment, or after touching the resident’s respiratory secretions, whether or not gloves are worn. Gloves do not replace the need for performing hand hygiene.
Wearing gloves if hand contact with respiratory secretions or potentially contaminated surfaces is anticipated.
Wearing a gown if soiling of clothes with a resident’s respiratory secretions is anticipated.
Changing gloves and gowns after each resident encounter and performing hand hygiene.
Wearing a facemask upon entering the resident’s room.
Removing the facemask when leaving the resident’s room and disposing of it in a waste container.
If resident movement or transport is necessary, have the resident wear a facemask, if possible.

If you would like to know more about how Turenne PharMedCo Pharmacy or Medical Supply Services can help you protect your residents, contact us at 1-866-710-7626.


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