Frequently Asked Questions
Is vaccination required for Duke University Health System employees?
Annual vaccination against the flu is now a condition of employment at Duke University Health System. This policy applies to all people who provide care, treatment or services in the organization, including those receiving pay (for example, permanent, temporary, part-time personnel), as well as members of the medical staff, contract employees, volunteers, vendors and health profession students.
What if I do not work in a Duke University Health System healthcare facility?
Effective August 1, 2013, all healthcare workers who provide care, treatment or services in a DUHS facility or a community home-based setting are required to be vaccinated annually against influenza. This revision to the DUHS Healthcare Worker Flu Vaccination Policy and Procedure purposely extends the impact of our Flu Vaccination Policy beyond our employees who work in clinical environments to those who work in non-clinical environments such as off-campus offices. The policy change further protects our patients and team members and allows us to extend a broader safety net around our community. The flu can impact anyone regardless of their work location.
I don't work with patients all day, every day. Why should I be vaccinated?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the vaccine for all persons over the age of six months, especially health care workers. You might be exposed to the flu virus, even though you are not directly involved in patient care, and then you could give the flu to others.
I'm very healthy and never get the flu. Why should I get the influenza vaccine?
Working in a health care environment increases your risk of getting the flu. You may become infected and experience only mild symptoms, but you can still pass the flu to patients, colleagues and members of your family.
I'm very familiar with the symptoms of the flu, and I stay home when I am sick. So there is very little chance that I would infect my co-workers or patients. Why should I get the vaccine?
The signs and symptoms of the flu may not appear for a day or two after you get the flu, during which time you could unknowingly infect patients and co-workers.
When should I be vaccinated?
When the flu season is about to begin, you should get the vaccine as soon as possible. It takes about two weeks to develop protection after receiving the shot. EOHW will begin offering the flu vaccine 9/18/13.
If I get the seasonal flu vaccine in the fall, will I still be protected if the flu season continues into March or April?
Yes. Protection from the particular strains included in the vaccine will last for the length of the flu season and sometimes longer.
Will the seasonal flu vaccine protect me against the H1N1 flu as well?
Yes, the 2011-2012 flu vaccine targeted the H1N1 flu strain that circulated last winter, and this year's vaccine is expected to protect against multiple flu strains as well.
Is it true that that you can get the flu from the flu vaccine?
No, you cannot get the flu from the flu vaccine. The flu viruses in the vaccine are either killed (as is the case with the shot) or weakened (as is the case with the nasal spray) so that they cannot cause the flu.
What is the nasal spray vaccine, and are there individuals who should not receive it?
The flu vaccine can be given as a nasal spray. It is not recommended for immune-suppressed patients; patients with chronic cardiovascular, pulmonary (like asthma), or metabolic diseases (like diabetes or renal insufficiency); pregnant women; and household members with close contact with severely immunocompromised persons (like acute leukemia patients).
Will the flu vaccine make me feel ill?
After you get the vaccine, you can have soreness, redness or swelling where the shot was given, low-grade fever and aches. If these problems occur, they begin soon after the shot and usually last one to two days. The nasal spray vaccine given through the nose may cause side effects, such as runny nose, headache, sore throat or cough. Almost all people who receive the flu vaccine have no serious problems from it. Any employee who may believe he or she is experiencing any adverse effects related to the vaccination should report them to Occupational Health Services.
I am pregnant. Should I get the flu vaccine?
Pregnant women should receive the flu shot because they are more likely to have serious complications if they get the flu. If you're pregnant, once you get the flu shot, your body will start producing antibodies that will help protect you against the flu, and this protection can be passed to your unborn baby. According to the CDC, you can receive the flu shot at any time, during any trimester, while you are pregnant.
Please note that pregnant women should receive the injectable vaccine and not the nasal spray.