A little pinch that protects patients

UC Davis Health System adopts stringent flu-prevention policy

UC Davis Health System flu poster
A UC Davis Health System flu rally poster. The health system provides free flu vaccinations for employees and stages several free vaccination opportunities for staff and students.

Although the H1N1 or “swine flu” pandemic is in the spotlight this year, many don’t realize that seasonal or common flu can also pose a significant threat to health.

While the seasonal flu means chicken soup and channel-flipping for most people, it hospitalizes more than 200,000 people every year and kills as many as 36,000.

Add the new H1N1 strain of flu virus into the mix, and some health officials say this flu season may be one of the worst in modern history.

That’s why UC Davis Health System is taking assertive precautions against the flu by requiring all employees, students, vendors and contractors to be vaccinated for the seasonal flu this year by December. Those who do not receive a vaccination for religious or medical reasons will be required to wear a mask covering their mouths and noses while working at UC Davis’ Sacramento campus or any UC Davis Health System facilities.

“Flu vaccinations have been shown to reduce the incidence and severity of influenza,” said Allan Siefkin, chief medical officer for UC Davis Health System. “Our policy reflects UC Davis Health System’s position as a leader in advancing health, and our commitment to doing everything we can to keep our staff and patients as safe as possible from the virus.”

Making it easy to get vaccinated

UC Davis Health System is providing the seasonal flu vaccine free of charge to employees at its employee clinic and at a number of drop-in events around the Sacramento campus this year, as it has for years. An Oct. 8 kickoff rally at UC Davis Medical Center featured free T-shirts, Tylenol, jelly beans and prizes.

The seasonal flu vaccine is now available for UC Davis patients. Contact your UC Davis primary care medical office to learn how to schedule an appointment for your vaccination. View a list of offices 

Because the new H1N1 flu is a novel virus that is new to humans, the seasonal flu vaccine will not protect against it. However, federal health officials have indicated that a H1N1 vaccine will become available this fall. UC Davis Health System plans to offer the new vaccine to faculty, staff and students in accordance with recommendations by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

"We will be following CDC guidelines for distributing the H1N1 vaccine as soon as it is here," Siefkin said.

Young children and the elderly are at high risk for serious complications from influenza, as are pregnant women and people of any age with certain chronic medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes and heart disease. Up to 30 percent of people with influenza typically show no symptoms.

Vaccinating healthcare workers against seasonal influenza is a safety goal of The Joint Commission, an independent organization that accredits U.S. hospitals for quality. It is also the focus of state law.

Read more about flu prevention at www.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu/flu, www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu or www.flu.gov.