by Cari Spillman, BMH Emergency Management Manager
Influenza or more commonly called the “Flu,” is a virus, not bacteria, that we need to be more aware of as the usual season is fast approaching. It is vital to have more awareness about the vaccination, signs and symptoms to be aware of and how to decrease the spreading of the virus.
Blue Mountain Hospital (BMH) has a handbook with guidelines that each employee agrees to adhere to upon being hired. In the handbook about influenza, it states the following:
“BMH follows the CDC and State guidelines regarding Influenza Vaccinations.
All Employees/Board mem- bers/Providers/Contractors/Volunteers/Students will be required to have the Influenza Vaccination annually. BMH will offer the Influenza Vaccination to those individuals at no charge. Those who decline (for whatever reason) will be required to wear a mask at all times while in the hospital between November 1st and March 31st, inclusive. Those who do not follow this requirement could be indefinitely suspended or terminated. There may be some excluded hospital locations. These options will be evaluated annually to align with CDC and State requirements.”
It is vital that we, as staff of Blue Mountain Hospital, follow hospital policy regarding this to protect ourselves, you and your family members as we provide care in our hospital and ER.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) educates the following information about the flu.
Take time to get a flu vaccine.
- CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine as the first and most important step in protecting against flu viruses.
- While there are many different flu viruses, a flu vaccine protects against the viruses that research suggests will be most common.
- Flu vaccination can reduce flu illnesses, doctors’ visits, and missed time at work and school due to flu, as well as prevent flu-related hospitalizations.
- Everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccine by the end of October, if possible.
- CDC recommends use of injectable influenza vaccines (including inactivated influenza vaccines and recombinant influenza vaccines) during 2016-2017. The nasal spray flu vaccine (live attenuated influenza vaccine or LAIV) should not be used during 2016-2017.
- Vaccination of high risk persons is especially important to decrease their risk of severe flu illness.
- People at high risk of serious flu complications include young children, pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes or heart and lung disease and people 65 years and older.
- Children younger than 6 months are at high risk of serious flu illness, but are too young to be vaccinated. People who care for infants should be vaccinated instead.
Take everyday preventive actions to stop the spread of germs.
- Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
- While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.
- If you are sick with flu-like illness, CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. (Your fever should be gone for 24 hours without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.)
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like the flu.
Take flu antiviral drugs if your doctor prescribes them.
- If you get the flu, antiviral drugs can be used to treat your illness.
- Antiviral drugs are different from antibiotics. They are prescription medicines (pills, liquid or an inhaled powder) and are not available over-the-counter.
- Antiviral drugs can make illness milder and shorten the time you are sick. They may also prevent serious flu complications. For people with high-risk factors, treatment with an antiviral drug can mean the difference between having a milder illness versus a very serious illness that could result in a hospital stay.
- Studies show that flu antiviral drugs work best for treatment when they are started within 2 days of getting sick, but starting them later can still be helpful, especially if the sick person has a high-risk health condition or is very sick from the flu. Follow your doctor’s instructions for taking this drug.
- Flu-like symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people also may have vomiting and diarrhea. People may be infected with the flu, and have respiratory symptoms without a fever.
With this information you are now ready to make better decisions in regards to you or your families health needs for the flu season. If you have any further questions, please follow up with your primary care provider.