Preparing Home Healthcare Workers For Flu Season

As flu season arrives each year, the nature of the virus, the timing, the seriousness, and the length of the season varies. Not even the Center for Disease Control (CDC) can predict how the 2014-15 season will play out, but recommends that everyone over six months of age receive a shot designed to combat the viruses expected this year. The CDC strongly recommends that all healthcare workers get the vaccine to protect themselves, their patients, and anyone else they come in contact with.  Sneezing

Greater Risks For Healthcare Workers

Healthcare workers are at a higher risk of contracting the flu and contaminating others. When exposed to a wide variety of patients, coworkers, and others, workers can pick up the flu without even knowing the source and can pass it along to others. While the CDC does not mandate that healthcare workers be vaccinated, state laws on the subject vary. In the State of New York, any home care worker who is not vaccinated is mandated to wear masks during the flu season while giving patient care. In addition, some employers may require those who deal with certain bacteria or viruses to get the vaccination.

Despite recommendations, only 50% of Americans nationwide get an annual flu shot, while about 75% of healthcare workers do so. Among home healthcare aides and assistants, the compliance rate drops closer to that of the general public at around 57%. Why don’t people, even healthcare workers receive the vaccine?

  • Some people are allergic to egg, a component of most vaccines, or have some other medical reason they should not take it. However, there are formulations that contain little or no egg.
  • Some people don’t like the idea of shots, even though modern shot administration is virtually painless. There is a nasal spray vaccine to avoid the shot, but those with asthma, who are pregnant, or who have certain other medical conditions should stick with the version administered by injection.
  • Some healthcare workers claim that any requirement to get a shot violates individual rights while others complain about the potential expense if their employer does not pay for the shot or if they do not have health insurance. The requirement that healthcare workers wear face masks if they do not get the shot is controversial as well.
  • As with the general public, some do not feel that a vaccination will really spare them from the flu, or that the flu is all that serious.

While vaccinations do not prevent a person from getting flu-like symptoms from other causes, CDC statistics indicate that healthcare workers are at a higher risk of infection than other people. While most adults face a 5.4% risk of getting the flu, unvaccinated healthcare workers face a risk three times as high (18.7%).

Nearly Perfect Staff Vaccination Rate At SelectCare of New York

SelectCare of New York offers the flu vaccine at no charge to all staff and administrators between August and March. While the company suggests, but does not require, workers to be vaccinated, 97% of field staff and administrators received the shot in 2014, while the others who deal with patients follow the state requirement to wear a face mask. The company even provides vaccines to clients at no charge.

Our staff is committed to high-quality patient care and to reducing risk of complications for our patients. If you are considering home healthcare for yourself or a family member, choose a company that puts patient care first. Just call us at 212-505-3640 for information or to request a Free In-Home Care Assessment.