October 24, 2018

Flu Season = Staffing Stressors

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Flu season may not be a top-of-mind concern for the average U.S. citizen right now, but our blog readers are surely bracing for the coming months after a tough 2017-18 season.The CDC classified last year’s flu season as the third “high severity” season for the flu since 2003-04. It was also the first time to be classified as a high severity season across all age groups. Facilities reported a total of 30,453 laboratory-confirmed influenza-related hospitalizations.

The Flu Season Quadruple Whammy

For healthcare facilities the flu season is a quadruple whammy. Here's why:

  1. More admissions to the ER and ICU
  2. Missed shifts from employees who have contracted the flu themselves (despite vaccination)
  3. Missed shifts from employees who need to care for sick family members
  4. Contract labor scarcities and exorbitant bill rates due to ultra-high demand

But 2018-19 May Be Better

While the flu outlook for 2018-19 appears to be a bit better based on activity reported from the Southern Hemisphere, predicting the severity of the flu in the U.S. each year is difficult. Just because a specific strain of the virus was active in Australia doesn’t guarantee that same strain will be active in the U.S.Here are a few more reasons why this year may be better:

  • The A(H3N2) strain was the main cause for last season’s high activity and the 2017-18 vaccine was estimated to be only 36 percent effective overall at preventing infection. This year’s recommended vaccine contains an updated A(H3N2) component and influenza type B component, which could prove to be more effective against circulating strains compared to last year.
  • The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices also re-approved use of the flu “spray” vaccine—also known as FluMist—in a 12-2 vote after recommending against it last year.
  • New data presented by manufacturer AstraZeneca showed improved effectiveness after they updated the H1N1 component of the vaccine, which they suspected was causing its low effectiveness.
  • Bringing back the flu spray could help boost overall vaccination rates, especially for children and adults who don’t like traditional shots.

Select Staff Nurses Now

Travel nursing companies are ramping up their efforts to attract nurses and making higher numbers of submissions to their client facilities. In all, travel nurses are a great tactic to fill temporary needs during the flu season. Just be prepared to pay high rates.But we at PassportUSA know that many facilities are already filling full-time needs with temporary solutions or have chronic unfilled job openings. If this is the case at your facility, we encourage you to explore the temp-to-perm workforce solutions that PassportUSA provides. A whopping 86% of our healthcare professionals convert to direct employment at our client facilities.Best of all, we have nurses that can be selected now and onboarded in time for flu season -- at rates that are typically $5-10 less per hour than travel RNs. Click the button below to search our available nurses or simply get in touch with us and we'll provide you with the details on our solutions.

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