Every year, the flu affects between 5 percent and 20 percent of all U.S. residents. The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by a number of different viruses. Seasonal influenza usually starts in the fall and peaks in January or February.
“Foil the Flu,” the annual seasonal influenza immunization program for NIH employees and contractors, was designed to help prevent seasonal influenza and is strongly encouraged.
So far, the Occupational Medical Service has administered 12,800 doses of the vaccine since Sept. 15, the first day of the campaign. Fifty-three percent of the vaccine recipients have completed the electronic survey and program efficiency has improved significantly with room for further improvement. The survey revealed the following:
- 76 percent of recipients received their shot within 5 minutes of arrival.
- 17 percent of recipients had to wait between 6-10 minutes after arrival.
- 6 percent of recipients had to wait between 11-20 minutes after arrival; and
- 1 percent (120 cases or so) had to wait more than 20 minutes.
The majority of cases waiting more than 20 minutes occurred during the first week of the campaign at off-campus locations. With experience and feedback, those minor issues and delays will be resolved for next year.
The biggest and most frequent complaint from the survey was the inadequate supply of the high-dose flu vaccine intended for recipients 65 and older. There is only one licensed manufacturer and it experienced unforeseen difficulties manufacturing and distributing that product this year. Other concerns included increasing administrative and clinical staff for the first day at each off-campus location and improving communications (status of vaccine supplies and signage).
For more information about Foil the Flu, visit www.foiltheflu.nih.gov/ or call OMS at (301) 496-4411.