Aged Care Facilities

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Aged Care Facilities and Flu

Annual flu vaccination is recommended for all residents

Annual flu vaccination for residents is an important measure to help protect people vulnerable to severe flu and prevent flu outbreaks.

Two new vaccines for older people (65 years and over) are available in 2018 to better protect this vulnerable age group.

The new vaccines (Fluad® and Fluzone® High-Dose) have been specifically designed to create a greater immune response in older people, who are known to have a weaker response to standard flu vaccine.

Annual flu vaccination is recommended for staff as well

Annual flu vaccination is recommended for all healthcare providers, staff and volunteers who work in Aged Care Facilities This has the dual benefit of reducing flu illness in staff members and helping to prevent the spread of flu from staff to vulnerable residents.

Which staff members should get an annual flu vaccine?

All staff who work in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities should be vaccinated against flu every year. This includes:

  • administrative staff, doctors, nurses, care assistants and allied health workers
  • cleaning and kitchen staff, volunteers, religious workers, and temporary and part-time workers
  • casual staff who work between facilities may miss vaccination clinics for regular staff, however are an important target group to reduce the risk of spreading flu between working locations.

Encourage family and friends to get an annual flu vaccine

Staff should encourage family and friends of residents to get a flu vaccine each year. Family and friends should also be reminded that if they themselves become unwell, particularly with cold or flu symptoms, they should delay visiting until they’ve recovered.

Flu outbreaks - prepare, identify and manage

Outbreaks of flu in Aged Care Facilities can lead to illness, hospitalisations and unfortunately deaths.

Having a Flu Management Plan in place is valuable preparation for an outbreak, and together with high vaccination coverage, will help protect residents against flu. Senior staff should lead the development of a Flu Management Plan using the recommended guidelines and involve all staff, visiting GPs as well as residents and their families.

Early identification of a flu outbreak is very important. If a flu outbreak is suspected it is important to remember that outbreak control measures are most effective when started straight away. From a public health perspective, not all affected residents need to be tested to confirm that the outbreak is due to the flu virus. Several positive results (four - six) are enough to confirm a flu outbreak and activate the management plan. GPs may decide to test other individual residents for clinical reasons.

Senior staff should notify treating GP’s and the Communicable Diseases Prevention Unit (CDPU) as soon as an outbreak of Influenza Like Illness (ILI) is suspected. It is not necessary to wait for confirmation from laboratory testing.

Contact the Communicable Diseases Prevention Unit (CDPU) early for advice

CDPU is a great source of advice for managing and controlling outbreaks of flu.

To contact CDPU call 1800 671 738.

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