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Flu season is expected to roar back

More than ever, health care workers must keep our patients safe.

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Flu

Two years ago, the feared flu/COVID-19 “twindemic” never materialized, thanks in large part to mandatory masking, distancing and other precautions that prevented the spread of both viruses.

This year, however, may be different. Community precautions are all but gone and people once again are gathering maskless in enclosed spaces. Australia, a Southern Hemisphere harbinger of what may be to come, had its worst flu season in five years. In the United States, the CDC is reporting early increases in seasonal influenza throughout most of the United States. COVID-19 and its variants remain a threat and there are now national reports of surges in respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV.

The point is not to alarm you about the potential for a tripledemic, but to remind all staff of that it’s more important than ever to keep our patients, our loved ones and ourselves safe from infection.

We know as health care providers that influenza can have serious consequences for our patients, particularly infants, the elderly, pregnant women and those with compromised immune systems.

Clinical staff members represent the largest employee population within Asante and are the most vulnerable to getting influenza — and passing it on to others. For this reason, Asante encourages all employees to get immunized before flu season begins. The goal is 90% staff immunization to achieve herd immunity.

If you haven’t received your shot, you will have other opportunities to get immunized, including through unit rounding by the flu team. You can also get a vaccination at an Employee Health office, Asante Pharmacy or through your primary care provider.

If you cannot or choose not to be vaccinated, you must formally decline in MyChart or complete this medical exemption/declination form and submit it to Asante Employee Health by Nov. 30.

Vaccination is only part of our safety equation. There are other simple steps you can take to prevent the spread of flu and RSV:

  • Clean your hands when entering and leaving a patient’s room — always.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Cover your cough and nose with a tissue or your arm. Batman cough!
  • Stay home when ill.
  • Clean and disinfect objects you frequently touch, such as pens, stethoscopes or shared equipment.

Infection prevention is a team sport and it starts with our care providers. This season, please protect our patients, your loved ones and yourself.

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