Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

UMHS implements flu season protection rules; vaccines still available

The U-M Health System's Infection Control and Epidemiology Department declared in December that influenza has become widespread in our area.

 

More information

U-M Health System's 2012 flu prevention program.

Questions and answers for UMHS employees. (Note: This page must be accessed from a U-M computer or virtual network.)

Download a flier explaining to patients and visitors why some health care providers may be wearing a mask.

Centers for Disease Control information about preventing the spread of flu.

According to university health officials, there is still time to be vaccinated against the flu. This year's seasonal flu vaccine provides protection against three different strains of influenza virus, including the H1N1 virus.

UMHS again has joined health care institutions throughout the country in requiring its employees to receive the flu vaccination or wear a protective mask during flu season. This requirement applies to all members of the UMHS community who interact face-to-face with patients in any way or enter patient rooms for any reason.

Visitors to university hospitals and health centers may notice health care providers or other hospital staff wearing protective masks. These employees have declined to receive the flu vaccine for health, religious or other reasons.

This Health System's flu vaccine policy is about putting patients first, and is intended to protect patients as well as employees from infection.

The most important factor in preventing flu outbreaks is annual vaccination. Vaccination is particularly important for high-risk groups, including children, those 65 and older, pregnant women and anyone with an underlying condition that can weaken the immune system. The CDC recommends flu shots be received annually.

Frequent hand washing, covering your cough or sneezing into your elbow, and disposing of used tissues promptly are also important preventive practices during flu season.

The seasonal flu vaccine remains available, and may be obtained at UMHS sites, the University Health Service, other primary care providers and some local pharmacies.

For Health System employees, free flu shots can be obtained at Occupational Health Services, located on the third floor of the Med Inn Building. OHS is open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Please note: Occupational Health Services will close at 4:30 p.m. on Dec. 21 and will not reopen until Jan. 2, 2013.

For individuals who already see a U-M physician, nurse midwife or other provider, vaccination can be done during existing or new appointments.

Common flu symptoms include fever, chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches and fatigue. Some people may experience vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.