flu vaccine
Taking multiple steps to prevent the spread of the flu, including getting the flu shot, can help in avoiding an outbreak in a unit this flu season. (Photo: UHN)

Staff, patients and visitors are encouraged to adopt a "bundled approach" to fighting the flu to avoid a disruptive flu outbreak in a clinical unit.

This includes eating and sleeping well, hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette and getting the flu shot. You can learn more about the bundle here.

Last flu season, UHN had nine reported cases of flu outbreaks in different units – an alarmingly high number, says Sarah Zanchettin, Infection Control Practitioner at Toronto General Hospital.

The impact of a flu outbreak, defined as two or more flu cases in a 48-hour window within a unit, is major and far-reaching, Sarah says.

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It affects patient flow, staffing, bed movement and requires an orchestra of different departments to join forces to contain the outbreak – Infection Prevention and Control, Occupational Health and Safety, Pharmacy, Toronto Public Health, Legal Affairs, Laboratory Medicine, and the list goes on.

"It's a huge struggle once you lose the ability to admit patients to an entire unit," Sarah says.

"Not only does it affect the unit, but the hospital overall as well it makes it difficult to transfer patients back to receiving facilities such as nursing homes."

Where can I get my flu shot?

An important part of preventing a flu outbreak is to protect yourself with the flu shot. To check times and locations of flu carts at your site, click here.

If you are sick with symptoms of the flu or any respiratory virus, you should not be at work, even if you had the flu shot this year.

In the rare chance that you have to be at work while ill, you must avoid patient contact and wear a surgical mask when you are around others.

Flu outbreak sign 

Enter to win $200!

To participate in our #TakeYourBestShot contest for a chance to win one of five $200 Cadillac Fairview gift cards:

  1. Roll up your sleeves for the flu shot
  2. Take a photo of your flu shot sticker on your UHN badge
  3. Tweet it @UHN_News with the hashtag #TakeYourBestShot, or
  4. Email us your picture to social@uhn.ca with #TakeYourBestShot in the subject line

The winners of the contest will be contacted at the end of the campaign.

Over 65 years of age?

A reminder that UHN is offering Fluzone High-Dose vaccine for staff over the age of 65.

Human immune defenses become weaker with age, which places older people at greater risk of severe illness from influenza.

Fluzone High-Dose vaccine contains four times the amount of antigen (the part of the vaccine that prompts the body to make antibody) contained in regular flu shots. The additional antigen is intended to create a stronger immune response (more antibody) in the person getting the vaccine.

If you are a staff member over the age of 65 who wishes to obtain Fluzone High-Dose vaccine, please contact the Occupational Health and Safety clinic at your site to make an appointment.​

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