AHCA/NCAL and Members Recognize Importance of Flu Vaccine

COVID-19
​The importance of vaccines has never been more prominent. While AHCA/NCAL advocates for priority when a COVID-19 vaccine becomes available, long term care providers are also acutely aware of the importance of the influenza vaccine for the 2020-2021 season.

Nursing homes and assisted living communities care for over 3 million people every year, many of whom are older adults and particularly susceptible to the influenza virus. Between 70 percent and 85 percent of seasonal flu-related deaths in the United States occur among people 65 years and older. 

The influenza vaccine is an effective way for people to protect themselves and others from flu-related complications. In the 2018-2019 influenza season​, approximately 49% of the U.S. population chose to get vaccinated, which prevented an estimated 58,000 hospitalizations and 3,500 deaths. 
 
Providers continue to promote and offer vaccines for both staff and residents to keep them safe. Providers have used several measures to increase the use of influenza vaccines among staff, including offering administration of the vaccine on-site at the workplace, influenza vaccine campaigns and challenges with recognition, and peer-to-peer learning. 

The general public can help with these efforts to keep long term care patients and residents safe from the influenza virus. As was seen with the spread of the coronavirus, community spread is highly indicative of whether or not a long term care facility will have individuals who contract COVID-19. When the surrounding community keeps themselves safe from infection, they are keeping seniors safer as well.  

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has several resources for long term care providers or individuals wishing to spread awareness and encourage others to get the influenza vaccine, including resources specifically for employers, caregivers, older adults, and the general public as well as Spanish language information.

The COVID-19 pandemic has made it abundantly clear how important it is that we keep America’s Greatest Generation and the individuals who care for them safe from communicable disease. The influenza vaccine is an effective way for not only long term care patients, residents, and staff, but the general population as a whole, to ensure they stay safe and healthy this fall and winter.