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Five Ways to Convince Patients they Need Flu Shots

Nurses Article   (27,034 Views 55 Replies 994 Words)
by Lynda Lampert, RN Lynda Lampert, RN (Member) Member Nurse

Lynda Lampert, RN has 4 years experience and specializes in telemetry, med-surg, post op, ICU.

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Nurses should never force patients to take any treatment, but sometimes we have to be a bit more persuasive in our approach to a particular procedure. One such treatment is the flu shot, and there are several myths and fears surrounding this vaccine. Helping your patient understand the importance of the flu shot can go a long way to making them healthier. You are reading page 4 of Five Ways to Convince Patients they Need Flu Shots. If you want to start from the beginning Go to First Page.

dudette10 has 8 years experience as a MSN, RN and specializes in Med/Surg, Academics.

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"Current evidence supporting the effectiveness of influenza vaccine in preventing hospitalizations in older adults is insufficient": Effectiveness of seasonal vaccine in preventing confirmed influenza... - PubMed - NCBI

The quote you used was from the background portion of the study. In other words, it was a quote supporting the need for the study you linked to. The findings of the study showed the vaccine prevented 61.2% of hospitalizations.

"Influenza vaccines can provide moderate protection against virologically confirmed influenza, but such protection is greatly reduced or absent in some seasons. Evidence for protection in adults aged 65 years or older is lacking. LAIVs consistently show highest efficacy in young children (aged 6 months to 7 years). New vaccines with improved clinical efficacy and effectiveness are needed to further reduce influenza-related morbidity and mortality":Efficacy and effectiveness of influenza vaccines: a systematic revi... - PubMed - NCBI

This is a review of literature study. The researchers had strict criteria for including a study in their review, and it found moderate protection in most seasons for people 18 to 65. Lack of evidence for ages 65 and older was due in part to their exclusion of studies that didn't meet their criteria.

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Lynda Lampert, RN has 4 years experience and specializes in telemetry, med-surg, post op, ICU.

22 Articles; 101 Posts; 49,270 Profile Views

Wow, I am so overwhelmed at the response to my article. To those of you who posted statistics, thank you! It gives us something evidence based instead of the whisperings that sound more like conspiracy theorists than scientific medical professionals. I also appreciate that some of you refuted those findings. This is an important part of getting to the bottom of this.

I think the flu vaccine will remain controversial, but I had no idea how much so when I was writing this article. As a result, I may have done things a little differently with my presentation. That said, though, I still think we need to objectively present the flu shot to patients, no matter what our feelings. I don't think nurses should be forced to take them if they are healthy, but I understand management's reasons for insisting upon them.

I am a student of history, and I remember the flu epidemic of 1918. It killed so many, and the flu shot is our only protection against something similar, flawed as it is.

Also, saturated fats and carbs . . . will they ever figure it out? AHA says sat fats. Who do you believe? You can get a statistic to prove anything, yet that is the scientific, evidenced based paradigm we are supposed to use. Flaws abound!

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klone has 13 years experience as a MSN, RN and specializes in Women's Health/OB Leadership.

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You remember the flu epidemic of 1918?

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Lynda Lampert, RN has 4 years experience and specializes in telemetry, med-surg, post op, ICU.

22 Articles; 101 Posts; 49,270 Profile Views

LOL, no, I didn't live through it. I remember it as history, much like Pearl Harbor Day. I didn't need to live through it to remember it and learn from it.

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klone has 13 years experience as a MSN, RN and specializes in Women's Health/OB Leadership.

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I think, by definition, you DO need to have experienced it first hand in order to remember it. Just saying.

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It shouldn't be distributed to the general public in the wide way it is, but the very young, the severely ill, and the very old would be in great danger not to take it. That's my opinion on it. I believe in preventative medicine, and this is the best we have.

I'm curious as to why you think flu vaccine shouldn't be distributed to the general public as it currently is.

Most of us have some contact with people who might be greatly harmed by the flu. I have a friend with an immune disorder, a friend with serious lung disease, and other friends who are very old. In the past, I had one parent undergoing chemotherapy and another parent in LTC. Is it not better for them if I don't get the flu?

My info is purely anecdotal, but I've only known one person who had serious reaction to flu vaccine. Most people who get it are just fine. Even though the vaccine isn't 100 percent effective, aren't we all better off if fewer people are spreading a serious disease?

Full disclosure -- I'm not a nurse; I've never been forced to get a flu shot and probably never will be. I do understand that people don't like being coerced into doing anything. I wouldn't like it either, just as a matter of principle. But outside of that, I don't understand why this is even a question.

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msn10 has 18 years experience and specializes in cardiac, ICU, education.

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I think the OP's subject line was the most worrisome to me. "How to Convince"

These are very dangerous words with a paternalistic slant. We should not convince our patients of anything. Our job is to inform without guilt. I remember this when I had my first child and I had every intention of breast feeding, however, the la leche consultant was a complete bully, and that is putting it mildly. It was breast feeding or nothing and I ended up not getting questions answered because I was so turned off. If your priority is to convince someone, then it is a debate mindset instead of an educational one, and more talking is done than listening.

And without trying to change the subject too much, it also always interests me why nurses think the flu shot is really going to be the answer for our chronically ill patients. We have so many chronic diseases because we as healthcare professionals fail to educate our patients on the real health issues - proper food/nutrition, maintaining a health weight, and proper amount of sleep. We would not have nearly as many health issues and reasons for so many medications if we promoted what would lead to the healthiest lifestyles.

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Msn10- The OP already realized her poor choice of words for the title of the article. How to educate patients would have been more appropiate.

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Having had two debilitating flus, I have since willingly had a flu vac every year and so have any of my kids under 18, however I don't believe it is my role to recommend it to my patients.

And my anecdotal evidence says it's the excessive carbs!

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My issue with the flu vaccine is that it is clearly not enough. My current assignment had nearly a third of the beds fill up with flu patients over the weekend. More are expected to come, and quickly. I wish there was a rapid vaccine that could be made after the predominant strain shows itself, so that more people can be vaccinated effectively. Perhaps, if this outbreak is virulent enough, even quarantining may be appropriate.

Is it paternalistic to want the herd to be immunized to protect the weak? Maybe. I am okay with that. I do not espouse autonomy at the expense of others. My belief is that the strong are supposed to protect the weak. There has been a "me first" mentality slowly taking over society ever since the baby boomers, but I have noticed it is quickly becoming "me ONLY." That makes me sad.

I think education should focus on the greater consequences for not taking the vaccine. Right now the information sheets focus on the risks, which naturally scares people. I would like to see PSAs that show grandma living happily flu free because her grandkids were vaccinated and didn't pick it up in school. Maybe there could be a promo that shows a baby living flu free because the uncle holding her got his vaccine and didn't pick it up at the grocery store. Then maybe a shot of someone on a ventilator who wasn't so lucky.

I don't know. These are just my views on getting the information out there in a way that encourages people to be responsible for each other and not just themselves.

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RUmedic has 3 years experience and specializes in cardiac ICU.

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Just curious -- are you old enough to remember polio? If not, have you read about it? Do you think that there should have been no polio vaccines?

I'm not a health professional, but as a child I wanted to be a nurse, so I remember photos of the "iron lung" and kids using crutches and braces to walk. I remember the sheer terror of my mother -- of course she tried to conceal it, but everyone was so frightened. You couldn't miss the moms discussing polio in hushed tones.

As an adult, I have read the history and I know there have been serious problems associated with polio vaccine at times. I had just gotten vaccinated when the Cutter Incident was announced (didn't affect me).

Nonetheless, even with problems and a few very bad outcomes, I think we are better off now than we were before polio was eradicated in most of the world.

I always raise this issue with anti-vax people and have never gotten much of a response.

To answer you question would simple: I am not old enough to remember. Also I am not against vaccines in general. In fact I would strongly advocate anti-polio vaccine as well as Td and Tdap (Tetanus, Diphtheria) as well as pneumonia vaccine amongst some select other ones. Nowhere in my post did I mention other vaccines but the influenza one. That's the only one I have issues with.

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SoaringOwl specializes in Med-Surg and Neuro.

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I think respect for other points of view is paramount in nursing. Many people find the flu vaccine questionable, that doesn't mean that they are fanatical anti-vaxers deserving of disdain.

Calling opinions that you disagree with "crap" is unprofessional and disrespectful. If the subject matter troubles you so, simply skip the thread.

Agreed. I was glad to get DTaP and other vaccines we know work, so I'm not an anti-vaxxer. But the flu shot has a record of inconsistency. This year is about 50% effective, in a good year it is 70%. I don't think I should be forced to put something in my body that doesn't have a high rate of effectiveness.

Additionally, I also had a friend stricken with GB after a flu shot. As nurses, we're always teaching patients that medicines and procedures have risks and side effects, and the pros and cons of any medicine or procedure needs to be carefully considered by the patient. Why don't we have that attitude toward vaccines? Getting GB, no matter how small the risk, is not a risk I want to take, unless the vaccine has great benefits to me that outweigh the risks. But because I'm a nurse I should shut up, stop thinking, and get a shot because my boss and the government says so? What kind of attitude is that?

How Effective Are Flu Shots? - NationalJournal.com

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