“We want people vaccinated,” said Registered Nurse Leigh Estvold to The Valley Journal. “It is especially important for the really young, anyone with a chronic disease and the elderly.” Equipped with syringes and bandaids, Estvold has teamed up with other travel nurses from the Lake County Health Department to administer flu shots this season. And the time for their road trip is ripe. Because according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, flu activity is relatively low in the US, but October is known for flu outbreaks.
For children, the risk is more severe. More than 140 children died just last year from complications stemming from the flu last year. That’s why the effort of these travel nurses is so noteworthy. Stories like theirs’ spread awareness and encourage others to get on board. Because despite good results, many are still reluctant to get their annual vaccination. Therefore, nurses are stepping up in a big way to convince you to get your 2015 flu shot.
This year, the Health Department is using a four-strain vaccine in each syringe with two types of influenza A and two types of influenza B. The Center for Disease Control decides what strains to use. Strains from last year are used in this year’s vaccine. The team of travel nurses are currently visiting senior centers where the response has been overwhelmingly positive. But these travel nurses aren’t the only ones making news with their efforts.
Across the country, Penn State’s University Health Services and the Penn State College of Nursing have also started a movement to raise more awareness about the harmful virus.
This year, UHS and the College of Nursing are collaborating on a social media campaign, #PSUFluFight, to spread awareness about flu prevention while encouraging students to get vaccinated. After receiving a shot, students are encouraged to take selfies wearing their stickers and tag the post with the hashtag #PSUFluFight. They then challenge three friends to get the shot, in an effort to spread the vaccine like the virus itself!
Even if you don’t participate in the social media movement, because most of the country doesn’t attend Penn State, there’s no good reason to not get a flu shot, especially nurses. Nurses are most always required to receive the vaccination anyways to fulfill clinical compliance. But it’s bigger than that. Nursing student Katie Jerdziewski told the Penn State student press:
Something we don’t always think about is that we protect others by protecting ourselves, she said. Many of us have loved ones with compromised immune systems, like cancer patients or babies who are too young to get vaccinated. We protect them by getting vaccinated ourselves.
Shelley Hafner, infection control manager at UHS, feels the same way.
Students are together all the time — in class, in the dorms, in social situations, she said. The flu is highly contagious and spreads like wildfire. For the past three years, we’ve had flu outbreaks during finals week, which is definitely not a good time to have the flu.
This is just another realm where nurses are leading the way for a very meaningful cause. Don’t let this effort be relegated to the traveling nurses and the nursing students of Penn State. Follow the example of these professionals and ensure you and your family get vaccinated before the nasty virus starts making its rounds.
Nurses know all about the flu. Spread the word, and fight the flu!
As the flu spreads this winter hospitals will be more dependent on travel nurses to meet patient caseload. Click the button below to find out if travel nursing this winter fits your career goals and lifestyle.