Do you manage or work in a long-term care or rehabilitation facility, military base, dorm, a camp, prison or jail? Germs can spread more easily in residential settings. During South Carolina's flu season, we ask that you make a special effort to do all you can to slow the spread of flu and protect your residents and staff.
Each year, flu is a serious threat for people living in residential facilities. Seasonal flu typically kills about 36,000 Americans and hospitalizes 200,000 each year. Flu can cause mild to severe respiratory illness and other symptoms.
We urge you to follow the guidelines below and work closely with us to slow the spread and severity of South Carolina's flu season. Make sure your employees are familiar with the symptoms of flu and emergency warning signs.
Preventing and Limiting Outbreaks
Make plans to protect your residents and employees from flu using this information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
- Interim Guidance for Influenza Outbreak Management in Long-Term Care Facilities
- Using Antiviral Medication to Control Influenza Outbreaks in Institutions
- Severe Influenza Among Children and Young Adults with Neurologic and Neurodevelopmental Conditions – Ohio, 2011 This CDC MMWR describes the challenges involved in a deadly flu outbreak at a residential facility for young people in Ohio during 2011.
Take These Steps to Protect Residents, Staff and Visitors
- Encourage staff to learn the facts about vaccination and get vaccinated against flu.
- Tell your employees about websites that can help them find flu vaccination providers in the local community.
- Require staff members who have the flu to remain at home until their fever has been gone for 24 hours without the use of fever reducing medications.
- Separate ill residents from the general residential population.
- CDC highly recommends that all health care personnel (HCP) get vaccinated annually against influenza. Health care personnel who get vaccinated help to reduce the following:
- Transmission of influenza
- Staff illness and absenteeism
- Influenza-related illness and death, especially among people at increased risk for severe influenza illness
- In addition:
- Higher vaccination levels among HCP have been associated with a lower risk of health care facility-associated influenza cases.
- Influenza outbreaks in hospitals and long-term care facilities have been attributed to low influenza vaccination coverage among health care personnel.
- Higher influenza vaccination levels among health care personnel can reduce influenza-related illness, and even deaths, in settings like nursing homes.
For more information, see the Guideline for Disinfection and Sterilization in Healthcare Facilities, 2008.