What HCWs need to know about flu

Training and education of health care workers is an important aspect of preventing transmission of flu. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers this specific recommendation:

Healthcare administrators should ensure that all HCP receive job- or task-specific education and training on preventing transmission of infectious agents, including influenza, associated with healthcare during orientation to the healthcare setting. This information should be updated periodically during ongoing education and training programs.

Competency should be documented initially and repeatedly, as appropriate, for the specific staff positions. A system should be in place to ensure that health care personnel employed by outside employers meet these education and training requirements through programs offered by the outside employer or by participation in the healthcare facility's program.

Key aspects of influenza and its prevention that should be emphasized to all HCP include:

• Influenza signs, symptoms, complications, and risk factors for complications. HCP should be made aware that, if they have conditions that place them at higher risk of complications, they should inform their healthcare provider immediately if they become ill with an influenza-like illness so they can receive early treatment if indicated.

• Central role of administrative controls such as vaccination, respiratory hygiene and cough etiquette, sick policies, and precautions during aerosol-generating procedures.

• Appropriate use of personal protective equipment including respirator fit testing and fit checks.

• Use of engineering controls and work practices including infection control procedures to reduce exposure.