Influenza Vaccinations: Truths and Myths for Healthcare Professionals



Each year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
(CDC) encourages everyone to get the flu immunization. We want to explain why
this is important. In this blog we will share with you some truths about
influenza vaccines that you might not know. We will also disprove some myths
going around that may have kept you away from this important safeguard.

Health care workers should be at the top of the list of
employees that should receive influenza vaccinations. The CDC recommends that
all health care workers should be vaccinated annually. Most physicians heed
this advice as a whopping 96.1% were vaccinated during the 2017-2018 season.
But physicians are only a part of the health care community. Nurses, medical assistants,
therapists, technicians, emergency personnel, trainees, front office staff,
billing, and administrative employees are just a few examples of other health
care workers. While most physicians are getting vaccinated, other health care
staff are getting vaccinated at rates as low as 71.1%. Almost all of health
care workers come in contact with patients. Even if they do not come face to
face with the patients, they most likely will be face to face with another
staff member who is in direct contact with the patients. Which leads us to ask,
how does the flu spread?

Influenza viruses can be spread in different ways. The
primary way is when an individual who has the flu coughs, sneezes or even
talks. Once this happens, tiny droplets can land unnoticed in a person’s mouth
or nose from up to six feet away! Some people believe they are safe because
they do not have any symptoms. The truth is you can be infected with influenza
for a whole day without experiencing any symptoms.

The CDC confirms that flu vaccines are safe, and any major
reactions are extremely rare. There are myths that the flu vaccine itself can
cause the flu. This is entirely unfounded. Flu vaccines are made with weakened
or even killed viruses that cannot harm you.

Just because you were vaccinated last year does not mean you
are safe this season. Also, if you are a genuinely healthy person who has not
had the flu in several years it does not mean you are immune to it now. Flu strains
vary from year to year. Immunizations work for a season but then begin to decline
over time. Annual vaccinations at the beginning of flu season is the best
scenario to avoiding the flu.

Private practices might want to pay to have their workers
vaccinated. Most health plans cover it and pharmacies such as Walgreens and CVS
will give you one on a walk-in basis for a very low price. Some places even
offer drive-thru vaccinations! Consider your health and the health of your
family, your coworkers and of course your patients.