Flu season is here and no one knows that better than a nurse. You’re one of the first lines of defense in the fight against the flu. You may be called upon each year to administer flu shots to everyone 6 months and older.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention seasonal flu activity begins as early as October, can continue to occur as late as May, and commonly peaks in the United States between December and February. To help prevent transmission of the flu, many injections are given and with every injection comes a new person with different concerns.
Here are some reasons why nurses help fight the flu.
Leading by Example
It’s recommend that all U.S. healthcare workers get vaccinated annually against influenza. You can get the flu from patients and coworkers who are sick with the flu. If you get the flu, you can spread it to others even if you don’t feel sick.
According to numbers from the CDC, about 65 percent of healthcare workers are vaccinated. But a closer look shows, by occupation, early season flu vaccination coverage is highest among:
- Pharmacists (86.7%)
- Nurse practitioners/physician assistants (85.8%)
- Physicians (82.2%)
- Nurses (81.4%)
- Other clinical professionals (72.0%).
One of the first things you do for your patient who comes in for a flu shot is answer any questions they may have about influenza.
The influenza virus is a respiratory illness which can cause a sudden onset of chills, fever, body aches, and coughing. It does not tend to cause vomiting and diarrhea as many people believe. The gastrointestinal virus is not the same as influenza.
Decreasing the Risk
Nurses can also explain the ways to decrease your chances of getting the flu. This includes:
- Healthy diet
The best defense against the flu is a flu shot. Studies show getting vaccinated against the flu reduces hospitalizations and lessens the severity of influenza if someone is infected.
Easing the Pain
As with all needle-based procedures, nursing professionals are expected to ease patient anxiety about getting a flu shot to deliver positive patient experiences. They may also fear the discomfort that goes along with an injection. Things you may do to help include:
- Asking patients to relax their muscles may also ease their nerves
- Distract the patient with their favorite music
The CDC recommends the use of topical anesthetic skin refrigerants to temporarily control the pain associated with vaccinations. In a matter of seconds, you can provide a solution for your needle-shy patient needing a flu shot.
By equipping you with the tools to ease your patient’s anxiety, everyone can better prepare for the fight against flu this season.
When it comes to needle phobia and needle anxiety, an instant topical anesthetic is a game changer. Learn more about our line of topical anesthetic skin refrigerants.