Healthcare professionals play a critical role in recommending flu vaccination to patients.

Healthcare professionals play an important role in making a strong recommendation for annual influenza (flu) vaccination for everyone age 6 months and older.

As a healthcare professional, it is up to you to start the conversation regarding annual flu vaccination recommendations with all patients each year.

It is also important for healthcare professionals to lead by example by getting vaccinated themselves each year. Vaccinating healthcare professionals against flu is a patient safety issue. Flu vaccination can help prevent healthcare professionals from passing influenza viruses on to patients, and it helps ensure a healthy workforce to provide patient care. NFID, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and numerous medical organizations recommend that all healthcare professionals receive an annual flu vaccination.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) clearly states that the single best way to reduce influenza (flu) transmission in healthcare settings is through increased flu vaccination.

CDC recommends that all healthcare professionals receive an annual flu vaccination to prevent transmission to patients.

Since it takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body that protect against influenza virus infection, it is best to get vaccinated before flu begins spreading in a community. But getting vaccinated later in flu season is still beneficial, as viruses may continue to circulate.

Healthcare Professionals and Flu Immunization Rates

  • Healthcare professionals are frequently the source of flu in healthcare settings. This is particularly troublesome for the vulnerable patients in their care, who may be at increased risk of severe complications, including flu-related mortality.
  • Outbreaks have been documented in high-risk patient care areas, including organ transplant units, long-term care facilities, and neonatal intensive care units.
  • Flu vaccination rates among healthcare professionals have improved but still remain below public health goals.

Benefits of Flu Immunization of Healthcare Professionals

  • Influenza immunization is an important patient safety issue. Unvaccinated healthcare professionals can spread flu to patients, coworkers, and family members, leading to flu-related illnesses and deaths.
  • Annual flu immunization of healthcare professionals:
    • Prevents severe illnesses and deaths
    • Protects patients, families, and coworkers
    • Decreases use of sick leave

Infection Passed from Healthcare Professionals Can Increase Morbidity and Mortality Among Patients

Many believe only older adults are at risk for increased complications from flu. In fact, anyone can get sick with flu, but certain individuals are at higher risk of developing serious flu-related complications, including hospitalization and death:

  • Infants and children age 5 years and younger
  • Adults age 65 years and older
  • Pregnant women
  • Those with certain chronic health conditions, including heart disease, lung disease, chronic kidney disease, and diabetes (even when the chronic condition is well managed)
  • Certain racial and ethnic groups

Even healthy people are at risk for getting sick from flu. CDC recommends an annual flu vaccination for everyone age 6 months or older.

Reviewed September 2023

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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