NEW YORK NURSE: March 2011
by Mark Genovese
Just because it’s March doesn’t mean flu season is over. In fact, registered nurses need to remain vigilant about infection control precautions in early spring.
“Many people ask if it’s too late to get vaccinated against the flu in late winter,” said Elizabeth Herlihy, associate director of NYSNA’s Education, Practice & Research program. “The answer is a clear ‘no!’ The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that flu vaccine should continue to be offered to unvaccinated people throughout the flu season as long as vaccine is still available. And since flu season can continue through April or May, a flu shot, even in March, can still help protect you.”
Additionally, NYSNA is releasing the 2011 edition of its Influenza Toolkit. The kit is the product of several months of work by a special NYSNA task force. It provides RNs with information about the nature of influenza, vaccines, and best practices to protect patients and staff from infection. It can be used by leaders of local bargaining units or health safety committees to present the information in a group setting.
The toolkit can be accessed from the NYSNA website. The heart of the toolkit is a slide presentation that can be used in its entirety or in sections.
The kit includes:
Individual components can be copied or e-mailed as needed. Contents of the toolkit may be tailored to the needs of a particular group or used in small sections over several meetings. If you have questions or suggestions about these materials, please contact NYSNA’s Education, Practice and Research program at 518-782-9400, ext. 282.
NYSNA believes nurses have an ethical obligation not only to protect themselves, but to protect patients and families from influenza. It supports the CDC’s recommendation that everyone six months or older, including healthcare workers, be immunized annually, unless there is a valid contraindication.
But NYSNA does not support mandatory immunization as a condition of employment. Any legislation that addresses influenza vaccination for healthcare workers should encourage facilities to implement a comprehensive influenza infection control program, which includes providing free voluntary vaccination.