We have been seeing an increase in positive lab specimens for Influenza A and Influenza B in our area. Some of those who have tested positive were vaccinated with the Seasonal Influenza vaccine in the fall of 2011. This has prompted questions as to whether staff and patients should be re-vaccinated with another dose of Seasonal Influenza vaccine due to “waning immunity”.
Stephanie Ashworth, Infection Control Nurse at GVMH, contacted the CDC and also spoke with Pat Franklin from the Missouri State Epidemiology Lab to get the answer to this question. Per Mr. Franklin, there is not a recommendation from the Missouri Department of Health or from the CDC for Seasonal Influenza re-vaccination at this time.
It’s February and most of the winter has felt like spring is right around the corner but don’t be fooled. I found this quote from a communicable disease nurse
“February is usually the time when we see the numbers of cases increase in a typical year,” related the communicable disease nurse. “It looks like that’s what is happening this year since we’re starting to see a definite rise in flu activity.”
I’d like to encourage you to learn more about the flu by going to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention influenza website. You’ll find information about symptoms, prevention, how flu spreads, and vaccination recommendations. The site has flu information related to adults and children.
If you don’t want to go to the CDC website, here is some important information to help prevent the flu:
Influenza viruses are spread from person to person through respiratory droplets such as occur during coughing, sneezing, nose blowing, or even more commonly through touching surfaces contaminated with the virus and then touching your eyes, mouth, or nose. Frequent hand hygiene with alcohol-based hand cleaner or soap and water is very important in helping prevent the flu.
Symptoms of flu include fever or chills and cough or sore throat. In addition, symptoms of flu can include runny nose, body aches, headache, tiredness, diarrhea, or vomiting. If a patient presents with these symptoms, please place the patient on Droplet Precautions which requires wearing an isolation mask when caring for them or asking the patient to wear an isolation mask while sitting in common waiting rooms so that others are not exposed to their respiratory secretions. Also remember to cover your coughs and sneezes and teach patients to do the same.
A person ill with Influenza can be contagious to others from one day before feeling sick to 5-7 days after symptom onset. If you are sick, it is recommended that you stay home until you have had no signs of a fever (chills, feeling very warm, a flushed appearance, sweating) and your temperature is normal for at least 24 hours (under 100 degrees Fahrenheit or 38 degrees Celsius). This should be determined without the use of fever-reducing medicines (any medicine that contains ibuprofen or acetaminophen).