The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has announced the week of December 8-14, 2008
, as National Influenza Vaccination Week
. This event is designed to highlight the importance of continuing influenza (flu) vaccination, as well as foster greater use of flu vaccine through the months of November, December and beyond, to avoid getting the flu when influenza season actually peaks.
Friday, December 12th, will be Health Care Worker Vaccination Day. Many hospitals, clinics, and nursing homes are taking vigorous steps to prioritize vaccination of health care workers, as emphasized by CDC and HHS.
Because the influenza virus has the potential to greatly affect nurses and their patients, ANA is especially adamant about nurses receiving an annual influenza vaccination. ANA further maintains that nurses involved in direct patient care – and particularly nurses working with persons who have HIV/AIDS, are immunocompromised or in other high-risk groups – get vaccinated against the flu in order to prevent any outbreaks of the virus.
ANA is encouraging nurses to get vaccinated in part because, according to the CDC, only 42% of health care professionals received immunizations against the flu virus last year. ANA believes this is an alarmingly low percentage and one that is totally unacceptable, especially given health care professionals’ categorization as an influenza high-risk group, their access to the vaccine and their daily contact with vulnerable patients, many of whom also are in high-risk influenza categories. Because influenza annually leads to 200,000 hospitalizations, resulting from complications, and 36,000 deaths each year, nurses who are vaccinated against the virus not only safeguard themselves, but they also help protect their patients, their families and their communities.