No rest for long-term care providers with swine flu lurking

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It turns out that seniors, and therefore, long-term care residents, are not entirely safe from the influence of H1N1 after all.

This week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reminded seniors that they should receive a vaccine against pneumonia bacteria as well as the seasonal flu. (Not the swine flu virus, mind you.)

The CDC is emphasizing the pneumonia bacteria vaccine because people who have died from the swine flu were also infected with pneumonia bacteria. These co-infections likely contributed to their death, according to a report published in the CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. (See it here.)

Those at risk for serious complications from the flu—be it H1N1 or seasonal—are wise to get vaccinated for pneumococcus, according to the CDC.

And providers thought they had caught a break from the paranoia surrounding the swine flu. The CDC has said that those over 65 are not a high-risk group for contracting the swine flu, or H1N1. That is still true.

But the new threat of pneumonia bacteria brings the fears associated with H1N1 just a little bit closer to home for them and those who work in long-term care.

Bottom line? The seasonal flu can never be taken lightly—and least of all when a new flu comes to town.

Seasonal flu shot hold-up?

The swine flu is actually causing complications for vaccine manufacturers as well. Sanofi-Pasteur, the largest U.S. supplier of seasonal flu vaccines, has shipped more than half of its 50.5 million doses to healthcare providers. But additional doses might be delayed as it labors to produce swine flu vaccine at the same time, according to The Associated Press.

Still, there is no need to panic because about 70 million of the nation's expected 114 million doses already have been delivered, the AP said. October is the traditional time when seasonal flu vaccine clinics open. The seasonal flu peaks in January and February.

So it's fair to say that swine flu not only is a frightening virus, it's a somewhat irritating one too. (But aren't all they all?)


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Daily Editors' Notes

McKnight's Daily Editors' Notes features commentary on the latest in long-term care news and issues. Entries are written by Editorial Director John O'Connor, Editor James M. Berklan, Senior Editor Elizabeth Newman and Staff Writer Marty Stempniak.