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Infection Control & Patient Safety

What Inspires Nurses to Get a Flu Vaccine?

Published January 15, 2013 8:27 AM by Barbara Smith
By this time, you've either had the flu, cared for a patient with the flu or know a friend or loved one who has been laid up for days with it. With the exception of California, Mississippi and Hawaii, all 50 states are reporting wide spread flu activity. Many of our clinics and hospitals are packed with patients because of this increase. 

Where I work, we've seen a 60 percent increase in staff taking flu shots this week compared to the same time in 2012. Our methods for administering vaccine haven't changed and our educational message is the same. So what accounts for this increase?  I think people are reacting to the big effect the flu is having this season - when you see the severe impact it has on people and loved ones, the reluctant staff have become motivated to get immunized.

So even if you have refused the vaccine for the 10th time this season, it's still worth taking one now. Even though it may not offer full protection, the vaccine may help you avoid the more serious consequences of the flu such as pneumonia and hospitalization.

It seems like Internet searches are an accurate way of trending flu activity. By tracking Google searches for flu related terms - symptoms, remedies - Google has accurately mimicked the prevalence of flu as determined by the CDC since 2004. At the Google.org flu trend website you can see graphs from 19 countries that show curves for flu activity-it's uncannily similar to the actual results from the CDC. This model may prove to be a useful early surveillance method of other infectious diseases.

posted by Barbara Smith


I have gotten flu shots faithfully since 1974. I had gotten the flu and had had it for 2 weeks before being hospitalized for 2 weeks. I vowed never to experience something preventable like that again. High fevers, total exhaustion, aches in every muscle I owned, fatigue for a month, etc. plus caring for 2 children under 2 years old. I realized that I could could still contract the flu but, the case would be milder, if the flu strains in the vaccine were the same as the strains going around that year. If not or if I had been exposed to the virus before I received the vaccine, I could again experience another flu nightmare. I have never had another case of the flu and have never had an adverse event from the vaccine.

Barb, Oncology Research - CTMS Monitoring Coordinator, Theradex February 13, 2013 7:32 PM
Princeton NJ

I find it wrong and unethical to force employees to get a vaccine that us a "best guess" at what strain is going around this year! The way I see it, us that a lot more people have already gotten the flu vaccine this year and the out break is earlier and worse than last year! The news that I hear is that the vaccine does not cover the type of flu that is going around. Therefore, by going out and getting the vaccine now will make one more likely to get the flu, because the flu shot decreases the immune system once injected. This makes people more susceptible to the actual flu.

I have not gotten the flu in the past 10 years and neither has my family. I think what I am doing is working and there is no reason to fix that which is not broke!

There is data online that gives the whole picture and the risks that outweigh the benefit of the flu shot.

So health care facilities need to quit bullying their employees, because I have heard that the % of staff who got the flu shot, does affect reimbursement!! The is money at stake for someone!!  

I say take a look at the number of sick days of staff who get the flu shot versus those who do not, before trying to make it mandatory!

Danielle , endoscopy - RN January 25, 2013 7:51 PM
orlando FL

I was forced to take the flu shot or lose my job this year. I am mad enough to quit. I may yet. I have not had the flu in 10 years and I have been exposed to it. I have co workers this year who did take the shot and got the flu (verified by testing in MD office).

 I feel vilified because I feel the way I do. Like I am some sort of monster who does not care about my patients! I believe some vaccines are very important and if you have impaired immune system then get the vaccine and hope it protects you. I am not for MMR. I am immuned to all for life because I am of the age where it was considered childhood illness and you got through it. I do not remember hearing about my friends in the neighborhood dying from measle, mumps, rubella or chicken pox.

Polio yes, but the present shot is not for life like the "sugar cube" we all took when I was a child. Tetanus, diphtheria even pertussis, but the change in the effective pertussis vaccine has made it less effective. Again I have a co worker and her child who got pertussis last year even with the vaccine.

I should not have to worry for my job if I do not take the flu. That should be my right to choose. Then you see the report of 2009 flu vaccine causing narcolepsy in those under 20. Damaged for life when the flu might not have killed them. It is a crap shoot and we are the guinea pigs!!!

Anna , NICU - RN , Piedmont-Henry January 23, 2013 9:42 PM
Stockbridge GA

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About this Blog

    Occupation: Infection Control Professionals
    Setting: Welch Allyn; St. Luke’s Hospital (Smith)
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