Influenza (“the flu”) is a serious respiratory disease caused by influenza viruses that can cause mild to severe illness. Seasonal flu activity can begin as early as October and linger as late as May. During the 2017–2018 flu season, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that the flu was associated with nearly 49 million illnesses, more than 22 million medical visits, nearly one million hospitalizations, and nearly 80,000 deaths in the U.S.
The severity of disease during the flu season can create a tremendous burden on the healthcare system. As a result, it is important to plan for the upcoming flu season, which can be a daunting task. In order to prevent the spread of flu, most healthcare facilities have policies in place that limit visitors during the flu season. These policies often prohibit children ages 12 and under from entering the facility or visiting patient care areas because children often carry viruses without exhibiting any signs or symptoms.
Everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccine—including pregnant women and people with chronic health conditions. Below are some guiding principles to help infection preventionists prepare for the flu season.
For the full article from the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC), click here.