There are several weeks of summer heat left for the year, and most of us are still wearing shorts and sipping ice tea. But, if you’ve visited a local pharmacy or doctor’s office you can’t help but notice “Flu Shot” signs are springing up everywhere. Even though the flu is probably the last thing on our minds as we wind down vacations and get kids ready for school, getting that annual flu shot should be on everyone’s upcoming “To Do” list. 
Flu shots are especially important for healthcare personnel. A recent study by the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) shows a correlation how many healthcare personnel are vaccinated against the flu and how many cases of influenza-like illnesses are reported in the community.
The Immunization Action Coalition, a vaccination advocacy group supported by the CDC, states influenza is the most frequent cause of death from a vaccine-preventable disease in the United States. Using data from over thirty years, the CDC estimates flu-associated deaths range from a low of about 3,000 to a high of about 49,000 people per season.  In fact, those numbers average 23,607 deaths per season.  In addition, there is an average of over 200,000 hospitalizations for flu-related illnesses per year.
Flu vaccines are needed every season for two reasons: 1) the protection your body gets from a flu vaccine declines over time so an annual vaccine is needed to remain immune, and 2) flu viruses are constantly changing and the annual vaccine formula changes with them. Even though 2014-2015 is a rare season with the flu formulation remaining the same as last season, we still need to boost our immunity.
When is the best time to get a flu shot? The CDC recommends that people get vaccinated against flu soon after vaccine becomes available, preferably by October. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against influenza virus infection. That’s why it’s better to get vaccinated early in the fall, before the flu season really gets under way. The CDC recommends that seasonal influenza vaccine be administered to all age groups as soon as it becomes available.
Your facility has a responsibility to protect the health of your patients and community. As a hospital, you can strengthen the immune barrier by holding your entire population accountable to prevent outbreaks. Your goal should be to achieve herd immunity, meaning large numbers of those with immunity protect those not immune. To successfully achieve herd immunity, you need to ensure at least 90 to 95 percent of the population has been inoculated and able to resist infection.
Your population includes employees but also all types of non-employees that check in to your facility including contracted personnel, healthcare industry representatives, volunteers and students. By using the ReptraxTM system, you can proactively prepare for the upcoming flu season. The Reptrax Seasonal Flu Snapshot provides vaccination statistics and monitors the flu vaccination rates of all types of your third-party visitors. Protect yourself, your patients and your community by getting a flu shot and requiring them of your staff and other visitors to your hospital.Receive the IntelliCentrics Blog in your inbox every time we publish a new blog post.  Click here to subscribe to our blog today!

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