REMINDER TO OBTAIN INFLUENZA (FLU) VACCINATIONS

The California Department of Social Services sent this important reminder in their recent Adult and Senior Care Update:

As in years past, licensees are reminded that all clients and facility staff should be vaccinated against flu each autumn as soon as vaccine becomes available. If possible, these vaccinations should be done by October before flu is present in the community.

The flu season typically occurs between October and April of each year. Sometimes, a client’s age or poor health makes it difficult to tell if he/she has contracted flu. The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) recommends that, particularly during the peak season, flu be considered in clients or residents of long-term care facilities with any combination of the following:

  • Fever greater than or equal to 100.04 degrees Fahrenheit (may be absent or low in elderly residents)
  • New onset cough and/or sore throat
  • Nasal congestion
  • Malaise (feeling ill)
  • Chills, muscle aches, joint aches, or headache
  • Change in respiratory status (increased cough, sputum production, breathing rate)
  • Change in mental status or appetite

Because the flu virus can spread rapidly in environments like RCFEs and Adult Residential Facilities where people live in close proximity, be sure to contact your local health department promptly if you suspect an outbreak in your facility. An outbreak is considered the occurrence of even a single case of laboratory-confirmed flu, or more than one client or resident developing an acute respiratory illness with fever during a one-week period. And, of course, handwashing is considered the single most effective measure known to help prevent or reduce the spread of infection in any facility.

For more information on flu, contact your local health care providers or health department. You may also wish to consult the American Lung Association’s website, which may provide information on flu clinics in your community, at www.flucliniclocator.org/, or call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872).

For CDPH recommendations on the prevention, detection, and control of flu in California’s long-term care facilities, please see the CCLD website at www.ccld.ca.gov/PG523.htm.

Additionally, the CDPH influenza web page, located at http://www.cdph.ca.gov/HealthInfo/discond/Pages/Influenza(Flu).aspx, provides links to flu-prevention education materials and other information.

Finally, for more information on respiratory hygiene and cough etiquette during the flu and cold season, please see the attached guidelines or go to www.cdc.gov/flu/professionals/infectioncontrol/resphygiene.htm.

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