September 23, 2013_NH "Dear Administrator"

September 23, 2013

ALTSA: NH #2013-017
Influenza and pneumococcal Immunization Reminders

Dear Nursing Facility/Home Administrator:

We need your help to protect your residents and staff from the flu. Every year, approximately 100 to 1,000 Washington residents die from influenza or its complications with most deaths occurring among those 65 years or older. In addition, more than 100 outbreaks of influenza-like illness occurred last season in long-term care facilities in Washington State.

You can minimize the impact of influenza in your facility by:

  • Encouraging all residents and staff to be vaccinated against flu and be up-to-date on their pneumococcal vaccine. Vaccination is the best way to avoid getting and spreading flu.  State regulations require nursing homes to provide residents access to flu vaccines annually. Residents and staff should be encouraged to be vaccinated now to ensure protection before flu begins to circulate in our state. Several types of flu vaccine are available this season. When multiple types of vaccine are appropriate and available, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states no preferential recommendation for one vaccine product over another.
  • Taking measures to minimize transmission in your facility, such as washing hands or using hand sanitizers frequently.  Visit to get information about infection control.
  • Calling your local health department if you notice a sudden increase in acute respiratory illness (two or more ill residents) or when any resident tests positive for flu. They can help with advice about testing, treatment, prophylaxis, and infection control.

Check the following websites often for new information about flu and pneumococcal disease:

Thank you for your continued effort to fight flu and protect those who are especially vulnerable.



E. Irene Owens, Interim Director 
Residential Care Services
Department of Social and Health Services               

 Maxine Hayes, MD, MPH
State Health Officer 
Washington State Department of Health