September 19, 2014

Flulapalooza is Oct. 1

Less than 10 seconds – that’s as long as it takes to roll up your sleeve and be part of Wednesday’s Flulapalooza, Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s mass flu vaccination event.

(Vanderbilt University)

Less than 10 seconds – that’s as long as it takes to roll up your sleeve and be part of next week’s Flulapalooza, Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s mass flu vaccination event that three years ago more than doubled the world record for the total number of vaccinations given in an eight-hour period.

Next Wednesday, Oct. 1, Vanderbilt University and Medical Center faculty, staff, students and volunteers can receive their free flu shot from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. in a large tent erected between Light Hall and Veteran’s Administration Hospital. Family members will not be included in this event.

All VUMC faculty and staff are strongly encouraged to get an influenza vaccination, to protect not only themselves, but Vanderbilt’s patients and families as well.

New data released last week shows an encouraging upward trend in the number of influenza vaccines given yearly, but still only 46.2 percent of the entire U.S. population age 6 months and older were vaccinated against flu during the 2013-14 flu season.

But coverage among healthy 18- to 64-year-olds has yet to top 40 percent, according to the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases.

Studies show adults may not seek vaccination because they think influenza poses no risk to them, but public health officials point out that flu hit the 18- to 64-year-old age group hard last season, with the highest flu-related hospitalization rates in this age group since the 2009 pandemic.

“The response to Flulapalooza has been impressive,” said Melanie Swift, director of the Occupational Health Clinic. “More than 12,000 medical center and university faculty, staff, students and volunteers were vaccinated at last year’s Flulapalooza.

“This is the way our faculty, staff, volunteers and students prefer to get their flu shots each year. It’s an easy and efficient way to mark getting vaccinated against the flu off your to-do list. But there’s always room for improvement. We would love to vaccinate more this year.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone at least 6 months old be vaccinated to protect themselves and their close contacts from the flu. Flu vaccine has been available for Vanderbilt patients for the past few weeks.

Also, for those who miss Flulapalooza, the Occupational Health Clinic offers flu shots on the sixth floor of Vanderbilt’s Medical Arts Building.

For maximum efficiency during the Flulapalooza event, please wear short sleeves and present your Vanderbilt ID badge. Supervisors should stagger staff participation in patient care areas so that not too many staff members are away at once.

Swift said that all faculty and staff who receive flu vaccine outside the OHC program are encouraged to electronically self-report their vaccination on the OHC website. If you are vaccinated in your provider’s office, at the VA or at a pharmacy, report your vaccine so that you are counted in your department’s vaccination rate.

VUMC policy now requires annual influenza vaccination or exemption. Exemptions may be for religious or personal/philosophical beliefs or for medical contraindications. Those who wish to be exempted from receiving the flu vaccine may complete an exemption form, available on the OHC website.

For information on how to protect yourself and your patients from influenza, check the Department of Infection Control and Prevention’s website.