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VA responds to early, surging flu season

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By VICTORIA DAVEY
VAntage Point Blog
This winter, America is experiencing an early flu season with flu cases surging across the country. The Veterans Health Administration is responding vigorously to the nationwide outbreak to protect the health of all veterans and staff in the VA health system.
All of the VHA medical facilities around the country have flu prevention and treatment as one of our top priorities.
According to our latest Influenza Surveillance Data, which is reported weekly, influenza activity continues to increase in our inpatient and outpatient settings. Nearly one-third of persons being tested for flu at VA facilities tested positive last week.
VHA has delivered more than 1.62 million influenza vaccinations since September, 2012. We are continuing to offer vaccination against flu and promote the fact that “It is not too late to get your flu shot!” Last week, Jan. 7-11, was VA Staff Influenza Vaccination Week to encourage all of our health care personnel to receive the flu vaccine.
In a special focus on our women veterans, our top clinical experts are holding teleconferences this week with our nation-wide staff on vaccine efficacy and guidance for women, focusing on vaccinations surrounding pregnancy and the importance of flu vaccine.
Every day, we continue to vaccinate against influenza.  Clinicians are providing antiviral medications for patients suspected of having influenza who are at risk for flu complications.
In addition, we continue to promote hand and respiratory hygiene. In our hospitals, we keep patients who have an acute respiratory illness away from others and we keep sick staff and visitors away from the health care environment.
For additional in-depth information on flu and other prevention measures, visit VA’s influenza website. There are additional resources at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s website, including the flu surveillance and activity map.
Dr. Victoria Davey is the chief officer of public health at in the Veterans Health Administration.