Montefiore in the News
This Year’s Flu Season: What You Need to Know Now
- October 7, 2014
New Vaccine and Regulations to Impact Patient Care, Prompt Early Vaccination
New York (October 7, 2014) – Each year, 30,000 people die from influenza infection and its complications. In an effort to get ahead of the upcoming flu season, experts at Montefiore Medical Center are raising awareness about the importance of the flu vaccine, which remains the best option to reduce a person’s risk of contracting the virus. The flu season can start as early as late September and usually runs for about 12 to 15 weeks.
Infectious disease specialists have identified the flu viruses that are the most likely to cause illness this season and about 90 percent of these viruses are believed to be well-matched to the current vaccines. However, there are several important factors Americans should know about the 2014-2015 vaccine:
- The new “four-strain,” or quadrivalent, vaccine will be offered to healthy children and adults through fluzone inactivated single-dose syringes, which are latex-free. This vaccine, which will be widely available, includes two strains of the more common A virus and two strains of the B virus. By comparison, last year’s “three-strain” flu vaccine (two A strains and one B strain) reduced the risk of flu-associated medical visits from Influenza A viruses by one half and from the less severe Influenza B viruses by two-thirds for most of the population.
- The egg-free Flublok vaccine is available for egg-allergic patients this year. It does not contain any egg proteins, antibiotics or preservatives and islatex-free.
“We don’t yet know how severe this year’s flu season will be, but we’re preparing now to try and confront it head on,” said Brian Currie, M.D., M.P.H., infectious disease specialist and vice president and medical director for research, Montefiore Medical Center. “We continue to strongly encourage everyone to get their flu shot early in the season – September is best.”
Influenza is a serious infectious disease that can lead to severe health consequences. Even healthy people can become extremely ill from the flu and spread it to others. People who have suffered a severe reaction to influenza vaccination in the past and people with a history of Guillain-Barre syndrome should not be vaccinated. People with severe egg allergies also could not be vaccinated, however, this year, the egg-free Flublok vaccine is available for egg allergic patients.
New York State regulations require that healthcare workers who do not get the flu shot wear a face mask when interacting with patients. Wearing this type of mask lessens transmission of the flu from healthcare personnel to patients, particularly since individuals incubating influenza may shed the virus prior to experiencing noticeable symptoms.
“People have the right to refuse the flu vaccine, but we also need to ensure patients are not placed at risk in a healthcare institution,” Dr. Currie said. “This requirement for everyone involved in direct patient care was introduced last year, but we strongly recommend influenza vaccination of all healthcare workers as the best way to protect themselves and their patients from influenza infection.”
Montefiore has launched a comprehensive internal and external campaign to urge employees and members of the community to get their flu vaccines. This year marks Montefiore’s second annual “I Got My Shot” campaign, the goal of which is to have 100 percent of associates receive an influenza vaccination. The vaccine is now being offered at Montefiore locations across the Bronx and Westchester, since it takes about two weeks after vaccination for the shot to become effective.
About Montefiore Medical Center
As the University Hospital and academic medical center for Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Montefiore is renowned for its clinical excellence, scientific discovery and commitment to its community. Recognized among the top hospitals nationally and regionally by U.S. News & World Report, Montefiore provides compassionate, patient- and family-centered care and educates the healthcare professionals of tomorrow. The Children's Hospital at Montefiore is consistently named in U.S. News' "America's Best Children's Hospitals." With four hospitals, 1,512 beds and more than 84,000 annual admissions, Montefiore is an integrated health system seamlessly linked by advanced technology. State-of-the-art primary and specialty care is provided through a network of more than 150 locations across the region, including the largest school health program in the nation and a home health program. Montefiore's partnership with Einstein advances clinical and translational research to accelerate the pace at which new discoveries become the treatments and therapies that benefit patients. The medical center derives its inspiration for excellence from its patients and community, and continues to be on the frontlines of developing innovative approaches to care. For more information please visit www.montefiore.org and www.cham.org. Follow us on Twitter; like us on Facebook; view us on YouTube.