Protect your residents and staff against flu every year, and prepare for flu outbreaks.
Flu vaccination - residents and staff
Flu (influenza) vaccination is the single most important measure for reducing the spread of flu in residential care facilities and preventing flu outbreaks. In addition to the vaccination of residents, it is also important that people caring for residents are also vaccinated against flu every year.
In addition to preventing flu illness in staff members, having high levels of flu vaccination among residential care facility staff can help prevent staff passing the flu onto vulnerable residents. This reduces the risk of serious pneumonia in residents leading to hospitalisation and/or death.
The effectiveness of flu vaccination tends to decrease with older age which makes it even more important that staff members who have regular contact with vulnerable older residents have themselves been vaccinated against flu.
The risk of staff members taking flu home and infecting family and friends is also reduced if they have been vaccinated against flu.
Who should get vaccinated?
All staff directly involved in the care of residents should be vaccinated every year. This includes:
- administrative staff with patient contact, doctors, nurses, care assistant and therapists
- cleaning and kitchen staff, volunteers, religious workers, and temporary and part time workers.
Staff should also encourage the family and friends of residents to get a flu shot each year, and remind them not to visit if they are not well, particularly if they have colds or flu-like symptoms.
When to get vaccinated?
Staff should get a flu shot as soon as the new seasonal flu shots become available - usually in March or April.
Flu seasons are unpredictable and can begin as early as May and last until October. Flu shots are most effective before flu season starts and take about two weeks to take effect.
It is never too late to vaccinate, even once the flu season is underway.
Flu outbreaks - prepare, identify and manage
Outbreaks of flu affect many residential care facilities across NSW every year, leading to preventable illness, hospitalisation and deaths.
Senior staff should lead the effort to prepare for a flu outbreak using the guidance available and involving all staff, visiting GPs as well as residents and their families.
When an outbreak is suspected, NSW public health units are available to provide additional advice on outbreak control measures. It is important to remember that flu outbreak control measures are most effective when started straight away. Don't wait for the outbreak to be confirmed by laboratory testing.
To contact your local public health unit call 1300 066 055.
See the Resources section below for a range of guidance and resources to help prepare for, identify and manage influenza outbreaks.
Posters and brochures
(* = able to be ordered through the Better Health Centre)
Policies, guidelines and fact sheets