Board with words Influenza Vaccine and stethoscope
Allied News December 19, 2018

By Moira K. McGhee

What Respiratory Therapists Should Say to Patients Who Won’t Get a Flu Shot

The flu vaccine prevents millions of illnesses and flu-related visits to the doctor every year, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). However, despite it being easily prevented with a vaccine, thousands of people are hospitalized with influenza each year. Why?

Because numerous patients simply refuse to get one. When you’re working in respiratory therapy travel jobs, it’s important to learn what to say to patients who won’t get a flu shot, so you can explain the importance of vaccination.

Visit Club Staffing to find respiratory therapy travel jobs and put your skills to work.

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Answers to flu shot resistance for respiratory therapy travel jobs

Patients with existing respiratory illnesses, such as asthma, COPD or other chronic lung diseases, are at a higher risk of developing serious flu-related complications, which makes it even more important for these patients to get a flu shot every year.

Whether a respiratory therapist works in a hospital, a skilled nursing facility, a doctor’s office or RT travel jobs, it’s common to face resistance from patients about getting a flu vaccine.

There are numerous tactics you can take and ways you can explain why they should get vaccinated.
Amesh Adalja, MD, FIDSA, FACP, FACEP, is a Senior Scholar at Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.  Here are some of his suggestions on what to say to someone who doesn’t want to get vaccinated against flu include:


• The flu vaccine is the best and only real means we have to prevent the flu.
• Flu is not benign; 80,000 people in the United States died from flu last season.
• Last season, a record number of children died from the flu, the majority of whom weren’t vaccinated.
• The flu vaccine has minimal side effects and cannot give you the flu.
• If you don’t like injections and are between the ages of 2 to 49, the nasal spray vaccine is an option.
• The more people who are vaccinated against the flu, the less disruptive the season will be.
If you’re around people who are frail and/or have serious medical conditions, you can protect them from the flu by being vaccinated yourself.

Adalja is also a board-certified infectious disease physician and does a lot of media on infectious disease topics. See the media section of his personal blog at Tracking Zebra.

There are many different flu viruses, and they’re constantly changing, so there’s still a chance you’ll get the flu even if you get a flu shot. However, some protection is better than none, and patients who contract the flu despite being vaccinated fare much better than those who don’t, states an October 2017 study.

“Though the flu vaccine is not 100 percent protective against preventing the flu,” said Adalja, “a breakthrough case of the flu is less likely to be severe and result in ear infections, pneumonia, hospitalization or death.”

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