Summer's over and flu season is coming fast
Based on its extensive health system capabilities including the providers of Riverside Medical Group, Riverside is a regional leader in primary, wellness and preventive care. And every fall we see preventive medicine in action through something as basic, but vitally important, as flu shots.
Influenza is a serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes even death particularly in the most vulnerable populations – the very young and, especially, the old. In our part of the country seasonal flu tends to run between October and early April but every flu season is different. In all cases, having good health is no indication of being safe since healthy people can get very sick from the flu and spread it to others.
During this time when the flu season is in effect, flu viruses are often continuously circulating in the population. An annual seasonal flu vaccine significantly reduces the chances that you will get flu and at the same time, reduces the potential to infect other people. So it's a fairly simple equation: the more people get vaccinated against the flu, the less chance it will spread throughout the community, affecting everything from regional productivity and economic viability to school attendance.
Who should get vaccinated against seasonal flu?
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as well as every municipal public health system recommends that, with the exception of some specific medical conditions, everyone who is at least six months of age should get a flu vaccine this season. Recommendations also extend to the following groups within the general population:
- People who are at high risk of developing serious complications like pneumonia if they get sick with the flu – including individuals with certain medical conditions like asthma, diabetes and chronic lung disease, as well as pregnant women and anyone over 65 years of age.
- People who live with, care for or otherwise come into contact with those who are at high risk of developing serious complications.
Roll up your sleeves people, there's a "U" in Flu
Along with these groups within the general population, the CDC, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and the Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee, strongly recommend that all U.S. health care workers get vaccinated against influenza each year. This includes not only individuals with direct patient contact, but everyone working in the same physical environment as those team members.
In an effort to support the recommendation and make the immunization coverage as widespread and effective as possible, Riverside, in keeping with similar policies across the nation, has mandated the seasonal flu shot for all employees who don't have an approved medical or religious exemption. Team members can either get their vaccinations free at the designated places and times within Riverside facilities or they can receive the flu vaccination at a community location at their own expense.
The reasons for the receiving the seasonal flu vaccinations are compelling. The patients and families receiving care within a healthcare facility should expect that the environment is as safe as possible. Seasonal immunization is, without any qualification, the most effective strategy we have – and the only one short of a very long quarantine! – of protecting the people we serve, as well as each other, from influenza.
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