With the 2019-2020 flu season on the horizon, now is the time to refamiliarize yourself with early flu symptoms and look into the hospital flu vaccine policy at your current and upcoming travel assignments. Are nurses required to get flu shots at those facilities? What are the flu statistics this year? It is best to answer all of these questions now and be sure you are fully prepared for this year’s flu season before it is in full swing. If you are considering getting vaccinated, you may also want to familiarize yourself with the current flu vaccine effectiveness statistics, available on the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) website.
What Are the Symptoms of The Flu?
As a nurse, you likely treat numerous patients with the flu every year. Still, it doesn’t hurt to remind yourself of the most common signs and symptoms and be on the lookout for their appearance, in both your patients and you. Typically, flu symptoms come on quite suddenly and can include any or all of the following symptoms:
- Fever and or chills
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle and body aches
- Vomiting and diarrhea (most common in children)
Flu Statistics 2019: What Are the Current Numbers?
The CDC posts weekly updates on its website detailing seasonal flu activity, which can be found here. Flu activity is currently low but is expected to ramp up quickly in the coming weeks and months and usually peaks during the moths of January and February. The 2017-2018 comprehensive influenza burden estimates have been released, and the results indicate that flu season was the most severe we have seen since 2009’s pandemic. According to the CDC’s estimates, the number of people with the flu during the 2017-2018 season was more than the combined populations of Texas and Florida, while the number of hospitalizations was more than the total number of staffed hospital beds in the United States. Additionally, the number of people who died from flu was more than the average number of people who attend the Super Bowl each year. While the majority of those fatalities were older adults who are more vulnerable to severe diseases, more than 10,000 deaths occurred among working adults aged 18-64.
Centers for Disease Control 2017-2018 Influenza Activity Estimates
- Number of influenza cases in the U.S.: 49 million
- Number of those who saw a healthcare provider: 23 million
- Number of hospitalizations: 959,000
- Number of deaths: 79,000
What Should You Do if You Suspect You Have the Flu During Your Travel Assignment?
As a nurse, it is vitally important that you recognize the symptoms of the flu outlined above and know how to prevent the spread of flu at work. However, oftentimes people spread the flu without even realizing they have it, and before any symptoms are noticeable. If you suspect you have the flu, get tested as quickly as possible and stay home if necessary, to prevent spreading the virus to your coworkers or patients. If you have any questions that you aren’t able to have answered at the facility in which you are working, please reach out to your recruiter as quickly as possible.
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