Flu ‘Blitz’ seeks 90 percent participation among UMMC staff
By Gary Pettus
Strongly urging employees to protect their patients and themselves, University of Mississippi Medical Center leaders are shooting for at least a 90 percent campus-wide participation rate during the annual flu vaccination push this month.
The drive begins with a Flu Blitz from 7 a.m.-4:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 25, when the Office of Student/Employee Health will provide free influenza vaccinations for Medical Center faculty, staff and students at four locations: the Clinical Sciences walkway, the Rowland Medical Library foyer, the hallway between the Batson Children’s Hospital and the Winfred L. Wiser Hospital for Women and Infants, and the hallway between the original and new University Hospitals near the business office.
Starting Oct. 28, the vaccine will be available from 7 a.m.-3:30 p.m. weekdays at the Office of Student/Employee Health in room N-136, said Jane Free, nurse manager. It will be offered there at least until Nov. 8.
“You’ll be able to receive the vaccine as long as supplies last,” said Dr. Elham Ghonim, director of infection prevention.
Student/Employee Health also will offer the shot at its clinic until 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 30, and Thursday, Nov. 7.
The seasonal flu shots also will be available from 9 a.m.-noon on Friday, Oct. 31, in the Grand Rounds Conference Room on the first floor of the Jackson Medical Mall Thad Cochran Center.Other dates and locations:
• 8 a.m.-noon on Thursday, Oct. 17, at the Central Billing Office in Clinton;
• 12:30-3 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 4, on the fourth floor of the Lakeland Medical Building;
• 7:30 a.m.-2 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 6, at the Pathfinders UMMC Health Fair in the Hardy Clinical Sciences hallway;
• 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 7, in the Norman C. Nelson Student Union; and
• 7 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, Oct. 28-Nov. 8, in the School of Medicine hallway.
Students who come in contact with patients also are urged to receive the vaccine, which protects against four different influenza viruses. Retirees and volunteers also may receive the shot at the Office of Student/Employee Health during regular hours.
The vaccine will be administered by injection only.
“Pregnant women are advised to get the vaccine, which will protect their baby as well,” Ghonim said. She said last year, UMMC’s participation rate was approximately 50 percent.
Seasonal influenza kills more than 36,000 people each year in the United States and sends another 200,000 to the hospital, reports the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). The Centers for Disease Control estimates that as many as 49,000 Americans die from the flu and its complications every year; up to 20 percent of Americans come down with the virus each flu season.
A respiratory infection, influenza invades the nose, throat and lungs. The best prevention method is getting a flu vaccine every year, the NIAID reports.
The flu virus can cause fevers, headaches and extreme exhaustion – symptoms that rarely accompany the common cold. It can lead to pneumonia and make existing illnesses worse.
People whose lives are most in danger from the flu are newborn babies, pregnant women, the elderly and those with chronic illnesses.
Before they even know they’re sick, people with the flu can spread it to others who are six feet away through coughing, sneezing or conversation. The virus can spread through contact with contaminated surfaces, where it can survive for up to eight hours.
Many myths are linked to the flu vaccine, but various health organizations, including the Joint Commission, a national health-care accreditation organization, say this is the reality:
• The injectable, inactivated flu vaccine does not contain the live virus, so the vaccine cannot cause influenza;
• The flu shot does prevent influenza most of the time – scientific studies show that its effectiveness ranges from 70 to 90 percent;
• People who have not had the vaccine are contagious at least one day before any signs or symptoms of the flu appear; and
• Everyone gets the flu at least once every three or four years, even if it’s a mild case – and even so, the person is still contagious.
After the vaccination, it takes approximately two weeks to develop protection, which lasts up to a year.
Those who should not receive the vaccine include anyone who has ever had Guillain-Barre Syndrome or who has any life-threatening allergies. Anyone who isn’t feeling well at the time of the vaccination probably should get it later once he or she feels better.
For information about the safety of the vaccine, visit www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety
For information about volunteer opportunities, call Jane Free at 4-4540.
For more information about the Flu Blitz, call Dr. Elham Ghonim at 5-5563 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the Office of Student/Employee Health, call 4-1185.