Does Flu Season have you ‘Seeing Red’?

Have you enjoyed all the festive colors this holiday season? We see an abundance of red and green during December, but with Christmas now behind us, those colors have new meaning in the map below.

This year’s flu season has gotten off to a slow start but is now beginning to spread across the country. Influenza activity typically starts in the South and spreads north, although global travel can spark higher activity in any state at any time. Below is the current map of Influenza Activity Levels. The colors will soon begin changing faster than children unwrapping holiday gifts, once the influenza bugs take hold.

Flu Activity Map

Are you or someone in your agency following the spread of the flu in your region(s)? 

The CDC tracks the spread of influenza in several ways and publishes a variety of ongoing reports. Someone at your agency should be monitoring these statistics and reporting back on issues in your region(s). Visit pages 15-18 of HHQI’s Immunization and Infection Prevention BPIP to learn more about the CDC’s influenza surveillance. You can also sign up for FluView (the CDC’s weekly influenza surveillance report) by creating a CDC user profile and selecting “Influenza Activity” in the list of Flu topics. Here’s a good starting point for your lead flu activity monitor:Flu Season Checklist

  • Sign up & review weekly reports
  • Check state Department of Health site weekly
  • Tap into local health department’s news
  • Watch/read local and regional news media
  • Check with supervisors for employees absent with reported flu symptoms

CDC (2013) reports information from the 2012-2013 flu season:

  • Flu vaccination prevented an estimated 6.6 million influenza-associated illnesses, 3.2 million medically attended illnesses, and 79,000 hospitalizations during the 2012-2013 flu season, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).
  • CDC also reported today that despite the benefits of flu vaccination, only 40% of Americans 6 months and older had reported getting a flu vaccine this season as of early November 2013.
  • Most of estimated hospitalizations last season were in people 65 and older. This shows how hard a severe H3N2 season can hit this vulnerable group,” CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H.
  • More from the CDC

Encourage your patients (especially the elderly) and staff to get vaccinated, and track your agency’s immunization rates. Watch this webinar to learn about HHQI’s free Influenza Immunization data report. You can also download the Immunization and Infection Prevention BPIP for more information, tips, and ideas. (Registration/log in required to access BPIP.)

We wish each of you a safe and happy New Year!

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