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March 6, 2013

Influenza Prevention UpdateExamining Common Arguments Against Influenza Vaccination

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Departments of Medicine (Drs T. R. Talbot and H. K. Talbot) and Preventive Medicine (Dr T. R. Talbot), Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, Tennessee.

JAMA. 2013;309(9):881-882. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.453

Following last year's season of low activity, influenza is surging across the country and as of January 5 has claimed the lives of 20 children.1 With influenza intensifying, it is important to review essential interventions that prevent influenza transmission at home, at work, and in health care facilities.

Several important actions should be performed by everyone to prevent the spread of this potentially deadly pathogen. Basic infection control practices such as regularly performing hand hygiene, observing respiratory hygiene and cough etiquette (“cover your cough”), and avoiding others and crowded areas when ill (social distancing) are important prevention methods for any contagious respiratory tract infection. Additional measures to limit transmission of influenza in health care settings are also essential. These include screening patients on arrival to assess for respiratory symptoms, placing a surgical mask on potentially infected individuals, using isolation precautions for those suspected of having or confirmed to have a respiratory tract infection, keeping infected patients away from other patients, and ensuring that visitors and health care personnel (HCP) do not visit or work while ill (ie, “presenteeism”).2

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