The flu season is in its early phases and the number of individuals seeking health care for symptoms similar to influenza is over twice the national baseline. Widespread flu activity is being reported across the country and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) FluView report continues to show increases.
“Flu season is in full swing. While the flu shot isn’t a guarantee, vaccination and proper hygiene are important steps to protect yourself and those you love from getting sick. This is especially true for individuals with chronic health conditions or compromised immune systems,” remarked Beth Grocott, RN, program manager for the Great Plains Quality Innovation Network (QIN) in South Dakota.
With over a decade of experience as a registered nurse, Grocott’s desire to provide patient-centered care expanded into quality improvement work. She became a nurse consultant for the South Dakota Department of Social Services before joining the Great Plains QIN team this fall. With a focus on population health, her role includes providing resources and technical assistance to ensure appropriate and timely administration of immunizations.
“Providers are educating their patients more than ever before. A common virus can become life-threatening,” added Grocott. “Many people know someone who has suffered from influenza or has heard stories of the intensity of the symptoms. They want to protect themselves and the ones they love.“
Within the Great Plains QIN four-state region, the recent FluView reported Kansas and Nebraska with high activity while South Dakota had moderate activity and North Dakota was listed as minimal. Activity is being compared to the 2014-2015 season, which had high severity.
Individuals with symptoms should follow these basic guidelines to prevent the spread of germs:
- Limit contact with others
- Stay home for 24 hours after fever is gone
- Cover nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing
- Wash hands or use alcohol-based hand rub
- Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth
- Clean and disinfect surfaces
Great Plains QIN works with providers, patients, partners and stakeholders to implement best practices to increase immunization rates. Information and tools are available on the immunization initiatives web page. Flu updates and resources are also available on the CDC web site.