October is a fantastic time of year in Arizona. We say goodbye to the extreme heat and begin fully enjoying the outdoors once again. But as assisted living home owners, it should also signal our preparation for flu season. Our elderly population is especially susceptible to serious problems associated with the flu. Here’s a quick recap of the things we can do to prevent the spread of the flu.
Flu shots stimulate the body’s immune system to generate antibodies that defend against the influenza virus. Arizona DHS requires that licensed assisted living homes make the influenza vaccine available to residents annually. The CDC also recommends that everyone receive their flu shot by the end of October. Remember, it takes two weeks for the body to fully develop it resistance to the influenza virus. Check with your local providers to find out about the availability of the flu vaccine.
Aging often diminishes the immune system’s ability to generate antibodies. High dose flu shots with increased antigens are available to boost antibody production. Suggest that your residents discuss this flu shot option to determine if it’s appropriate for them.
Steps to Encourage Flu Shots
- Remind your residents and staff about flu season and flu vaccines
- Educate and inform family members
- Coordinate vaccination with other medical appointments
- Assist with transportation for obtaining a flu vaccine
- Identify providers who can vaccinate in your assisted living home
Be sure to document your flu shot vaccinations and refusals in accordance with your assisted living home’s policy and procedure.
Stop the Spread of Germs
Preventative measures to stop the spread of germs are equally important as vaccines. Meet with your team and review your flu prevention plan with them.
Steps you can take to minimize the flu in your home
- Encourage staff to receive the flu vaccine
- Discourage visitors to the facility who exhibit flu symptoms
- Provide hand hygiene training for your staff
- Locate hand sanitizer at your facility entrance
- Sanitize touch surfaces (door knobs, light switches, etc.) regularly
- Avoid close contact with those exhibiting flu symptoms.
- Reschedule staff who exhibit symptoms
- Provide PPE when necessary
AL 101 – Arizona Statues and DHS Rules for Flu Vaccination
Arizona Revised Statute
(d) Require as a condition of licensure that nursing care institutions and assisted living facilities make vaccinations for influenza and pneumonia available to residents on site on a yearly basis. The department shall prescribe the manner by which the institutions and facilities shall document compliance with this subdivision, including documenting residents who refuse to be immunized. The department shall not impose a violation on a licensee for not making a vaccination available if there is a shortage of that vaccination in this state as determined by the director.
Article 8 Rules
- Cover the provision of assisted living services, including:
- Coordinating the provision of assisted living services,
- Making vaccination for influenza and pneumonia available to residents according to A.R.S. § 36-406(1)(d), and
iii. Obtaining resident preferences for food and the provision of assisted living services ;
- Documentation of notification of the resident of the availability of vaccination for influenza and pneumonia, according to A.R.S. § 36-406(1)(d);