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It’s That Time of Year Again: Preparing for Influenza Season 2019-2020

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by Melissa Mills Melissa Mills, BSN (Member) Member Writer Innovator Expert Nurse Verified

Melissa Mills has 20 years experience as a BSN and specializes in Nurse Case Manager, Professor, Freelance Writer.

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Mandatory Flu Shot?

The CDC has issued their latest data about the flu vaccine. As the country gets ready to prepare, how are you feeling about being told you have to get a flu shot by your employer? Read the article, take our poll, and tell what you think!

Would you get a flu shot if it weren’t required by your employer?

  1. 1. Would you get a flu shot if it weren’t required by your employer?

    • Yes
      43
    • No
      21

64 members have participated

It’s That Time of Year Again: Preparing for Influenza Season 2019-2020

Ah….fall! That time of year where we start to prepare for winter. Autumn brings leaves, pumpkins, and warm sweaters. Everyone heads outside for bonfires, football games, and trick-or-treating. Yet, lingering right around the corner is flu season. This isn’t a season that brings joy and happiness. The flu is a dangerous and even deadly virus that is preventable. Here are the essentials you need to know about the Influenza vaccination recommendations from the CDC for 2019-2020.

What is the Flu?

Influenza, commonly called the flu, is a respiratory infection. The flu can cause serious complications in those who are compromised for any reason, such as older adults, young children, or individuals living with conditions that decrease their ability to fight off infection. Vaccines are not 100% effective. However, they are the best way to prevent the flu and possible complications. 

How are flu vaccines created?

Flu viruses are constantly changing. Each year, researchers across the country, study the current strains, and review the composition of vaccines. Updates to the vaccines are needed to match the viruses that are seen the most. There was a delay in selecting the viruses for the 2019-2020 season due to frequent changes in some of the common viruses.

Flu shots protect individuals against three or four viruses that are expected to be most common during the season. Four vaccines will be available to the public this year.  

Medication Rights: Right Patient, Right Time

Annual flu vaccination is recommended for everyone over the age of six months unless contraindications exist. Getting vaccinated is of utmost importance for a few specific populations, including women who are pregnant, young children, and older adults.  Young children may need up to two doses of the vaccine to be fully protected. Other populations that are at high risk of complications from the flu include individuals living with obesity, liver or kidney disease, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, asthma, cancer, COPD, or cystic fibrosis. 

Will there be Enough Vaccine this Year?

The amount of vaccine available each year depends on manufacturers. The projection for the 2019-2020 season is between 162 million and 169 million doses for the U.S. alone. These numbers may change depending on how the season progresses. 

Arguing for Mandatory Flu Shots

If you work around people with the flu, your chances of contracting the virus are increased. Getting the vaccine not only protects you, but can also help to protect your family, friends, and patients. Individual’s with the flu are contagious one day before symptoms show up and up to seven days after becoming sick, which means that many people can pass the flu on to others without even knowing it.

The CDC recommends that all U.S Healthcare workers get vaccinated against the viral infection. More than 78% of all healthcare workers received the vaccine during the 2017-2018 season. Doctors and pharmacists were the most vaccinated at 96.1% and 92.2% respectively. Nurses came in at 90.5% and nurse practitioners at 87.8%. Healthcare workers in long-term care settings were the least likely to get the vaccine, and those in hospitals were the highest. Some healthcare settings mandate flu vaccines for all clinical and non-clinical staff. These clinical setting had the highest rate of coverage at 94.8%. 

Arguing Against Mandatory Flu Shots

While the CDC recommends getting vaccinated, not everyone wants to get a flu shot. Hospitals report that making flu vaccines mandatory is to protect patients. However, what about the rights of the healthcare worker?

Researchers report that vaccinating healthcare providers will help with patient safety, increase the effectiveness of the vaccine, and protect those staff who are at an increased risk of complications from the virus. Those who oppose the vaccine report factors like side effects of the drug, setting a precedent to require healthcare professionals to comply with other medical treatments, or just feeling like a shot isn’t needed as their reasoning for opposing the requirement. Many nurses feel that following standard and transmission-based precautions such as hand washing, wearing masks, and even keeping people in isolation should be enough to minimize the spread of the infection. 

How Do You Feel?

Vaccines can elicit much debate these days. And, requiring professionals to take a medication that they don’t want could cause some tempers to flare. So, where do you stand on the issue? Take our poll so that we get an idea of how many of you only take the vaccine because it’s required at work. And, comment below to let us know how you really feel about the topic.

Melissa is a professor, medical writer, and business owner. She has been a nurse for over 20 years and enjoys combining her nursing knowledge and passion for the written word. She is available for writing, editing, and coaching services. You can see more of her work at https://melissamillswrites.contently.com/.

9 Followers; 122 Articles; 23,568 Profile Views; 284 Posts

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Mavnurse17 has 2 years experience as a BSN, RN.

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I was mandated to get my flu vaccine throughout nursing school and when I worked in the hospital. It was a hassle but I got it every year and never got the flu.  

Last year was the first year I chose not to get it (I'm a school nurse so I'm probably even more predisposed) and what do ya know...I got the flu.  

Needless to say, I'll be getting mine this year.  

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juan de la cruz has 27 years experience as a MSN, RN, NP and specializes in APRN, Adult Critical Care.

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Get the vaccine. I work at a tertiary facility and each year, we receive outside hospital transfers on a number of flu cases who go into full blown respiratory failure leading to ECMO cannulation and some, death. 

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Hoosier_RN has 20 years experience as a MSN and specializes in LTC, home health, hospice, ICU, ER, dialysis.

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I got mine today

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Throughout my 40's up to mid 50's there were a couple of years I didn't get it because I felt I was healthy and had a strong immune system, but now that I'm 62 I make sure to get it. I have seen some very bad cases and some deaths from pneumonia due to the flu and I have never had a bad reaction to the shot (except a little soreness).

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OUxPhys has 4 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in Cardiology.

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Eh, Im torn. I could go either way honestly. It doesn't help though when you read that the year's vaccine is effective 38% of the time. It doesn't even cover all the strains. The flu is such a rapidly changing virus that you could get the vaccine and still get a strain of the flu not covered. 

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kbrn2002 has 25 years experience as a ADN, RN and specializes in Geriatrics.

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I work in a SNF and have no problem with getting vaccinated. The last thing I want to do is be exposed somewhere else and bring that to work. Our facility has been flu-free for three years straight now. We had one case last year that came back from the hospital positive and we still manged to completely isolate the flu to that one resident.  I may be wrong here but I think a large part of our success is our 90%+ vaccination rate between residents and staff. Not to mention excellent infection control since we did prevent the one case that came in with the flu from spreading to anybody else.

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On 9/19/2019 at 7:54 AM, Wuzzie said:

Getting mine when I come back from vacation even though I had a reaction to it last year. 

I'm curious about what your reaction was . . . ?

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On 9/21/2019 at 5:13 AM, OUxPhys said:

Eh, Im torn. I could go either way honestly. It doesn't help though when you read that the year's vaccine is effective 38% of the time. It doesn't even cover all the strains. The flu is such a rapidly changing virus that you could get the vaccine and still get a strain of the flu not covered. 

I'm not torn.  38% chance of effectiveness is better than zero.  Plus, if you do end up with the flu, you will most likely have a milder flu.  

As I'm nearing retirement age, I'm working with hospice patients, mostly in their homes. Their health is fragile and I'm going to do everything I can to not hasten it by bringing flu into their home. 

Also, I have a family member in remission from cancer whose immune system was blasted by chemo prior to a stem cell transplant.  I protected him as well. 

Not to mention, a new baby coming in a month and other grandkids.

I'm going to protect those around me.  

https://www.cdc.gov/flu/season/faq-flu-season-2019-2020.htm?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fflu%2Fseason%2Fflu-season-2019-2020.htm

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“I'm curious about what your reaction was . . . ?”

About 45 minutes after getting it I started flushing to the point of being beet red from head to toe. I got dizzy and all 4 extremities started going numb. My reflexes were noticeably decreased. BP dropped. I was a little SOB. No itching or hives. It was the strangest thing. I’ve had the shot before, I’m not particularly scared of needles and am not prone to hysteria. I generally feel kind of yucky for a few days after but this time the following 4 days I had my typical symptoms just ramped up astonishingly. I was told I was “not myself”. There were 6 other staff members from different floors with similar symptoms (none of us knew each other). It was investigated and the only correlation they found was the same lot# of the vaccine so they pulled them to be safe. All of us recovered with no long term affect.  I did, however, get a mild case of the flu (Influenza A) a little later which was odd as the vaccine is usually affective for me. They are nervous to vaccinate me this year so I may have to get it in employee health so I can be observed but I’m more scared of getting the flu since I have terrible asthma. 

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56 minutes ago, Wuzzie said:

“I'm curious about what your reaction was . . . ?”

About 45 minutes after getting it I started flushing to the point of being beet red from head to toe. I got dizzy and all 4 extremities started going numb. My reflexes were noticeably decreased. BP dropped. I was a little SOB. No itching or hives. It was the strangest thing. I’ve had the shot before, I’m not particularly scared of needles and am not prone to hysteria. I generally feel kind of yucky for a few days after but this time the following 4 days I had my typical symptoms just ramped up astonishingly. I was told I was “not myself”. There were 6 other staff members from different floors with similar symptoms (none of us knew each other). It was investigated and the only correlation they found was the same lot# of the vaccine so they pulled them to be safe. All of us recovered with no long term affect.  I did, however, get a mild case of the flu (Influenza A) a little later which was odd as the vaccine is usually affective for me. They are nervous to vaccinate me this year so I may have to get it in employee health so I can be observed but I’m more scared of getting the flu since I have terrible asthma. 

That does sound scary.  Thanks for the details.

Your mild case of flu is most likely due to getting the flu shot as it can lessen the severity or keep you from getting the flu.  

I'm glad you will be observed and hopefully this was simply a fluke.  

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