This winter, America is experiencing an early flu season with flu cases surging across the country. The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) is responding vigorously to the nationwide outbreak to protect the health of all Veterans and staff in the VA health system.
All of the VHA medical facilities around the country have flu prevention and treatment as one of our top priorities.
According to our latest Influenza Surveillance Data, which is reported weekly, influenza activity continues to increase in our inpatient and outpatient settings. Nearly one-third of persons being tested for flu at VA facilities tested positive last week.
It is not too late to get your flu shot!
VHA has delivered over 1.62 million influenza vaccinations since September of 2012. We are continuing to offer vaccination against flu and promote the fact that “It is not too late to get your flu shot!” Last week, January 7-11, was VA Staff Influenza Vaccination Week to encourage all of our health care personnel to receive the flu vaccine.
In a special focus on our Women Veterans, our top clinical experts are holding teleconferences with our nation-wide staff on vaccine efficacy and guidance for women, focusing on vaccinations surrounding pregnancy and the importance of flu vaccine.
Every day, we continue to vaccinate against influenza. Clinicians are providing antiviral medications for patients suspected of having influenza who are at risk for flu complications.
In addition, we continue to promote hand and respiratory hygiene. In our hospitals, we keep patients who have an acute respiratory illness away from others and we keep sick staff and visitors away from the health care environment.
For flu shot information, check with your nearest VA health care facility.
Flu can be mild or serious
Influenza, or “flu,” is a contagious respiratory virus that spreads easily from person to person. Flu season usually begins in the fall and can continue through late spring.
Anyone can catch the flu virus. Flu can be mild or serious for some and deadly for others. Flu causes hospitalizations and deaths, especially among vulnerable groups such as the very young, people ages 65 and older, and those with chronic medical conditions.
Vaccination is your best protection against the flu, which occurs mostly between October and May. Protection can take up to 2 weeks to develop after vaccination and it lasts about a year.
The flu vaccine can be tolerated by people with egg allergies that are not severe. Check with your health care provider if you have a severe egg allergy. The flu vaccine contains egg protein.
For additional in-depth information on flu and other prevention measures, visit VA’s influenza website. There are additional resources on the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) website, including the flu surveillance and activity map.