|Like the rest of the nation, Emory Healthcare is experiencing a shortage of influenza vaccine. To date, Emory has received only 20,000 of the 23,000 doses it ordered from Aventis, the only supplier qualified to provide vaccine this year. Most of Emory's available doses have already been given to high-risk patients as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and to health-care workers directly involved in patient care. Vaccination of health care workers providing direct care is important to reduce the risk of transmission to patients and to ensure adequate healthy staff to care for patients during flu season.
The remainder of the vaccine will be reserved for Emory's highest-risk patients, including elderly persons hospitalized at Emory University Hospital, Emory Crawford Long Hospital and the Wesley Woods Center, and immuno-suppressed persons, including transplant patients hospitalized or receiving care at Emory University Hospital.
Emory will not have enough vaccine for all patients in all categories designated as at-risk by the CDC.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as well as Emory experts in infectious disease, recommend the following steps to minimize the risk of influenza transmission in the absence of a sufficient vaccine supply.
1. Avoid Close Contact. Avoid close contact with people who are sick. If you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them.
2. Stay at Home When You Are Sick. If possible, stay at home from work, school, and errands when you are sick. You will help prevent others from catching your illness.
3. Cover Your Mouth and Nose. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick.
4. Clean Your Hands. Washing your hands thoroughly and often will help protect you from germs. It is recommended that individuals wash their hands with warm, soapy water for a minimum of 20 seconds. In the absence of warm, soapy water, alcohol based sanitizers work well also.
5. Avoid Touching Your Eyes, Nose and Mouth. These infections are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated and then touches his or her eyes, nose or mouth.
6. Practice Healthy Habits. Get enough sleep and physical activity, drink plenty of water, and eat a balanced diet.
Please note that adults with influenza may be able to infect others beginning one day before getting symptoms and up to seven days after getting sick. This means that you can give someone influenza before you even know you're sick, as well as while you are sick. This makes it especially important to be diligent in practicing the good health habits listed above.