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Time for Your Flu Vaccine


Credit: iStock

Flu vaccination clinics will open around the The Johns Hopkins University and Johns Hopkins Health System in October. All Johns Hopkins employees, trainees, postdocs, medical students and faculty members who have direct patient contact or work in a patient care area are required to get an annual flu vaccination.

Influenza, or the flu, is a contagious viral respiratory illness spread by coughing, sneezing or close contact with an infected person. Though flu season typically peaks between December and February, flu activity can begin to increase in October and run as late as May. The severity of the flu can range from mild to serious cases that lead to hospitalization or even death. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) called last flu season a “high severity” season, with more than 224,000 people testing positive for the flu across the country from October 2017 to May 2018. In Maryland, there were more than 3,500 confirmed flu cases.

Johns Hopkins experts recommend that everyone 6 months and older get the flu vaccine every year. “The vaccine is one of the best ways to not only protect yourself, but also safeguards our patients, visitors, co-workers and loved ones as well,” says Lisa Maragakis, senior director of infection prevention for the Johns Hopkins Health System and CEPAR’s senior adviser and subject matter expert for infectious disease, epidemiology and public health. “The flu vaccine can prevent you from catching the flu or reduce the severity if you do get sick.”

This season, Johns Hopkins will be offering both the injectable and the nasal spray forms of the flu vaccine to employees and patients. The CDC has approved the nasal spray for this flu season after two seasons of recommending against this form of the vaccine due to low effectiveness.

Besides on-site clinics offered at Johns Hopkins starting in October, you will also again be able to get the flu shot outside Johns Hopkins. Baltimore- and Washington, D.C.,-area staff can visit participating Walgreens stores. Staff at Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital can get their vaccine at participating CVS stores. Employees can submit proof of immunization through Occupational Health Services to receive credit for the vaccination.

This year, the deadline to comply is Friday, Nov. 16 for staff at Baltimore- and Washington, D.C.-area Johns Hopkins Health System hospitals. At Johns Hopkins All Children's, the deadline to comply is Wednesday, Nov. 14. For employees who have a medical or religious exception request, forms are due by Nov. 6 for Baltimore- and Washington, D.C.-area hospitals and by Nov. 2 for Johns Hopkins All Children's. Employees who have received an exception in the past must complete and submit another form each season.

“The flu can be life-threatening,” Maragakis says. “In order to combat the flu, we encourage everyone to get vaccinated now so that you will be immune in time for the moment flu starts to circulate, along with practicing standard infection prevention tactics like washing hands and staying home when sick.”

For more information about this year’s Johns Hopkins Medicine flu clinics, please visit the Johns Hopkins 2018–2019 Flu Campaign webpage.