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The beginning of flu season

December 10, 2012
by Kathleen Mears
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It looks like flu season has started this year. It always seems to coincide with the holidays. Because of the illness, we were short an aide this weekend, which slowed things down. I know the other aides are hoping not to get it.

For several days, aides and nurses have been coughing. Last week, two aides were sent home early. But the flu is not confined to staff and residents. Visitors are at risk or, if they are not feeling well, may add to the outbreak in a facility.

Since flu shots are not offered free here, staff does not routinely get them. Some would not get them because they are allergic while others never get a flu shot.

I usually get an annual flu shot. While I know it only protects me from a couple strains of flu virus, I feel it is worth it.

I am trying to be careful and stay away from those who are coughing. When I eat in the dining room, other residents are more likely to cough on me. However, there is little I can do to protect myself from germs, since I cannot cover my mouth or nose. My solution is to turn my head or try to move away.

I remember a flu outbreak in previous facility where I lived. Many residents became ill. A few days before Christmas, my sister came to drop off my gifts. After we had a brief chat among the resident, I told her to leave so she wouldn’t get sick.

Several times during flu season there, the dining rooms were closed, sometimes for as long as two weeks. Administration did not want residents together to pass around germs. We stayed on our units and meals were brought to the lobby.

I am hoping that this first "almost wintertime" virus passes quickly so that staff and residents can enjoy the holiday season.

Related articles: 2012 National Influenza Vaccination Week  

Where are the germs in long-term care?

LTC caregivers had lowest rates of vaccination in 2011-12 flu season

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Kathleen Mears

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Kathleen Mears has been a nursing home resident in Ohio for 20 years. She is an incomplete...