The American Nurses Association (ANA) strongly recommends that registered nurses and all other HCP who have direct patient contact be vaccinated against the influenza virus.
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.
Please refer to CDC’s NIVW website for more details www.cdc.gov/flu/nivw/index.htm along with the HHS Health Care Personnel influenza immunization toolkit site www.hhs.gov/ophs/programs/initiatives/vacctoolkit/index.html.
This year, Tuesday, December 9th, is designated as Children's Vaccination Day. Each year in the U.S., 20,000 children under the age of 5 are hospitalized due to influenza, and children between the ages of 2 and 5 are more likely to be taken to a doctor, urgent care center, or the emergency room because of flu. There are new tools on the CDC flu Web site (www.cdc.gov/flu) to promote children’s vaccination.
Seniors remain another group at risk of serious complications from influenza; Thursday, December 11th, is designated as Seniors' Vaccination Day. African-American and Hispanic seniors have lower reported rates of vaccination than their Caucasian peers.
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.