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Tis the Season…..

Almost nobody is stupid enough to run a computer or a network without virus protection. Those that are, often find that their machines are worse than useless in a few weeks if they are lucky. If they are not lucky, people all over the world are shopping with their credit cards, transferring funds from their bank account and sending annoying spam to all of their friends.

So it makes sense that an enormous amount of time, energy and expense is devoted to protecting our computers against viruses. And yet…… aside from a statistically insignificant number of suicidal IT techs, a computer virus has never killed anyone.

The Flu, on the other hand kills thousands of people each year. If we spent a fraction of the time trying to prevent flu in our community by providing virus protection which is free to most of our patients, we would save lives. That’s a good thing, I think. Healthcare Reform has raised some payment issues. But, as always, I digress.

There are a lot of arguments against getting the flu shot. One quick search on the internet will alert you to the fact that the flu vaccine is ineffective and kills people. Therefore, all of these unlicensed medical pontificators have advised the rest of the internet against taking the flu vaccine. One man in Canada died of anaphylaxis after a routine flu injection. Another blogger accused the healthcare industry of lying about the possibility of anaphylaxis and covered it up by calling it a ‘severe allergic reaction’. The Internet School of Medicine is apparently not hosted by an Ivy League facility.

First of all, about 35,000 people die each year from the flu. Other than the dude in Canada, I do not see any reliable statistics about deaths from the flu vaccine. One and a half people out of a million will have a serious allergic reaction (also known as anaphylaxis for the ISM crew), and some people feel crummy for a day or two as their immune system kicks into action. This is not the same thing as the flu.

There are some agencies who will decide not to give the flu shot. Depending on your state and the pharmacy laws, that is understandable. However, if your agency decides not to administer flu vaccine, that doesn’t mean it isn’t just as important to educate your patient and their family members on the importance of being vaccinated.

Remember that all patients currently admitted, assuming they are on service until the end of episode will have at least part of their episode in the current 2011-2012 flu season.

This is easy folks. Let’s save a few lives this year. Start by getting your own flu shot. Your patients will appreciate it. So will your family.

Please feel free to email with any brilliant ideas for effectively promoting flu vaccines among staff and patients. As nurses working together we can make a serious dent in the damage the flu does to our collective patients this year.

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