Usually once during the fall/winter season the facility is invaded by flu. In order to contain the infection, activities are canceled and no meals are served in the dining rooms. For those who are not sick, these days of suspended activities and dining room dinners can seem to last forever. Some of us residents stay in our rooms as much as possible to avoid getting it.
Without dining rooms it is more difficult to feed residents who must be fed. The 'feed residents' eat in their rooms or are gathered in the lounge to be fed. This allows residents to be fed in a timely manner. One year right before Christmas we had a particularly bad flu outbreak. Residents had to eat on the hall for more than two weeks. Some of us felt we should forgo Christmas visits with family members to keep them from getting sick. But many of us who were well really wanted the company.
This year with the regular seasonal flu and H1N1 we have no idea what kind of fall/winter awaits us. Last year was not too bad because the weather was very cold here and that kept most visitors away.
This year our seasonal flu shots were delayed. Seasonal flu vaccine was plentiful in October and then it disappeared. However, the newspapers predicted it would be available by November.
Yesterday a nurse surprised us and gave us our seasonal flu shots. But we have no idea when the H1N1 flu vaccine will be available for residents here. Right now it is being given only to those in the high risk groups.
We have begun to experience the normal fall colds and respiratory infections. Some schoolchildren in the area have had H1N1 virus and some adults are afraid and want their H1N1 shot. But others who have suffered reactions to the seasonal flu shot will not take it or the H1N1 shot. If they are concerned about catching the flu, they should be willing to take their chances.
Nursing home residents know that for the most part flu is brought into us by visitors or by staff. Staff here can get the seasonal flu shot for a fee of $10. The H1N1 vaccine is free for staff, and we will probably receive it whenever it is available for the general population.