Influenza is still spreading, and increased flu deaths have made this a particularly active and tragic flu season. What can you do to aid in teaching patients about flu prevention methods, such as getting their flu shot?
According to new estimates based on a collaborative study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and global health partners, between 291,000 and 646,000 people worldwide die from seasonal influenza-related respiratory illnesses each year. That new figure, published in The Lancet, in December 2017, is higher than a previous estimate of between 250,000 and 500,000 people.
Joe Bresee, MD, associate director for global health in CDC's Influenza Division and a co-author of the study, said the new estimates should remind everyone just how serious the flu is and why teaching patients about flu prevention should be a global priority.
Some Doctors Say Increased Flu Deaths Mark the Worst Flu Season They’ve Seen
The news comes at a time when this year’s flu strain in the U.S. is particularly active and deadly.
According to the CDC, as of January 13, 30 children have died from influenza this flu season, and the flu is widespread in every U.S. state except Hawaii. The Los Angeles Times reports that in just California alone, 74 people under the age of 65 have died from the virus since October (32 of them in just one week this month).
Couple those stats with the countrywide spotlight on several cases where individuals in their 20s and 40s died within days of catching the flu, and it’s a scary reminder that the healthcare industry needs to increase efforts toward teaching patients about flu prevention, such as getting flu shots and encouraging others to do the same.
Teaching Patients the Importance of Getting a Flu Shot
As a healthcare provider, what can you say or do that might help in teaching patients to get their flu shot or other means of flu prevention? Try these tips.
Make it personal. It's particularly important for patients with chronic illnesses to get flu shots. The elderly population is at greater risk of complications from the flu as well. Sometimes explaining the importance in relation to the individual's personal circumstances can help tip the scales in favor of getting the shot. Example: "The flu vaccine is important for everyone to have, but when you factor in the fact that you have diabetes, as well as heart disease, and are age 65, you're at particular risk for having dangerous complications if you get the flu."
Make it about others. Explain how the flu spreads and how it's everyone's responsibility to help avoid making a bad situation worse. Example: "At your age, you're more susceptible to flu strains, as are young children, and anyone with a weakened immune system. By protecting yourself, you are helping to protect the people around you." Or: “I know you spend a lot of time with your grandchildren. Both you and they are in the higher risk groups, so it’s best for everyone to get your flu shot.”
Make it matter. Does the patient simply not understand how important the flu shot is, or why it’s important to keep getting the shot every year? Do they not understand how serious the flu could be and how long it could take them down? Have they heard myths about the flu shot (such as, it gives you the flu) that need to be dispelled? Teaching patients is key in these cases. A little extra nudge from you might just save a life.
To discuss how CareSync™ can provide care coordination or Chronic Care Management services to help in teaching patients and improving their care, call us at 800-501-2984 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.