Beyond October- Make a Strong Recommendation for Flu Vaccination

by J.Adderton J.Adderton, BSN, MSN

Specializes in Clinical Leadership, Staff Development, Education. Has 29 years experience.

As a healthcare professional, you have an important role in protecting patients and communities against the flu virus. Although most vaccination campaigns roll out in October, it is important to continue vaccinations as long as influenza viruses are still circulating. This article will introduce you to the S.H.A.R.E. method for making a strong recommendation for vaccination.

What can you do to continuing making a strong recommendation for vaccination beyond the campaign blitz?

Beyond October- Make a Strong Recommendation for Flu Vaccination

Flu vaccine education, consents and declinations..... Oh My!

The 2018-2019 flu season is upon us and flu vaccination campaigns have been launched across the United States. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends receiving the flu vaccine prior to the end of October. However, flu activity commonly peaks in December and January and later vaccination is still beneficial.

As the most trusted health professionals, nurses play a critical role in preventing and treating influenza within their communities. Research indicates adults are more likely to consent to vaccination if it is recommended by healthcare providers. This article will explore what you need to know to make a strong recommendation and a strategy for implementing in your practice.

Knowing the facts about the impact of influenza is a crucial part of preparing for the new flu season. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the 2017-2018 flu season resulted in 80,000 U.S. deaths, a record high for the last decade. During the 2017-2018 flu season, deaths related to pneumonia and influenza were numbered above epidemic levels for 16 consecutive weeks. In addition, 183 pediatric flu deaths were reported and 80% of those deaths did not receive the flu vaccine. There are steps healthcare providers can take to lay the groundwork for making a strong recommendation for vaccination. The goal of a strong recommendation is providing clear and accurate information so individuals can make an informed decision

Be Aware of Your Own Attitudes

Are you own attitudes toward flu vaccination preventing you from providing your patients with a strong recommendation? Being aware of common reasons the flu vaccination is declined will prepare you to make recommendations based on facts and not personal biases. Common excuses include:

"I'm not sick and don't need the shot"

Fact- The flu is a contagious illness that can lead to serious complications and the vaccine helps to protect you from flu.

"I can get the flu by the vaccine."

Fact- The vaccine will not give you the flu, but you can still catch non-flu viruses. Since the vaccine takes 2 weeks to take effect, you can still get the flu during this time.

"I'll wait until the flu breaks out in my area"

Fact- it is risky to try to time your vaccine with a flu outbreak in your area. Remember- you need at least 2 weeks after vaccination to be protected.

"I had the flu shot last year"

Fact- the vaccine is updated for each flu season so you will be protected against the circulating strains.

To be prepared to respond to these excuses, refer to the CDC's handout,

No More Excuses: You Need a Flu Shot.Use S.H.A.R.E. to Make a Strong RecommendationThe CDC recommends using the S.H.A.R.E. method to help you educate patients and make a strong vaccination recommendation.

S-Share patient specific reasons why the flu vaccination is recommended based on age, health status and risk factors. Vaccination is recommended for anyone 6 months of age and older with rare exception (i.e. life-threatening allergy, history of Guillain-Barre' Syndrome). Be familiar with populations that are at higher risk for potentially serious flu complications. If you need a refresher visit the CDC resource People at High Risk for Developing Flu-Related Complications.

H-Highlight the benefits of vaccination. Try sharing positive experiences with the vaccine to boost confidence. Try sharing your own personal experience or a positive patient outcome as a result of vaccination.

A-Address patient questions or concerns about the flu vaccine. Common questions often include side effects, safety and effectiveness. Information should be appropriate for the patient's health literacy level and easy to understand.

R-Remind patients of the role the vaccination plays in protecting them and those close to them from flu and flu-related complications. If the patient initially declined vaccination, it is important to remind them of the health benefits.

E-Explain the potential consequences of getting the flu, such as serious complications, missed work or school and financial burden. Sinus infections are an example of moderate flu complications and more serious complications include pneumonia, inflammation of the heart, brain or muscle and multi-organ failure. It is important for healthcare providers to continue making a strong recommendation for flu vaccination beyond the initial campaign push. The CDC recommends vaccination as long as influenza viruses are still circulating- often continuing into January. Many individuals know the importance of vaccination, but need a reminder beyond the month of October.

What can you do to continuing making a strong recommendation for vaccination beyond the campaign blitz?

For additional information, explore the CDC's Influenza (Flu) Site. You will find resources for facts, resources for healthcare workers and educational materials.

J.Adderton BSN, MSN has 20 years experience with diverse experience from bedside nursing, leadership to nurse faculty. If you enjoyed this article, check out my blog by clicking on my name.

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