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Infection Prevention - Flu, Viruses, and Other Health Issues

Individuals in long-term care settings are especially vulnerable to healthcare-associated infections (HAIs). Germs can be spread from resident to resident on unclean hands of long-term care personnel as well as through the improper use of equipment. According to the CDC, 30 outbreaks of hepatitis B and hepatitis C have occurred in non-hospital healthcare settings such as long-term care facilities in the last 10 years alone.

These infections can have negative emotional, financial, and medical effects on long-term care residents. HAIs can often be prevented, however, when residents, long-term care workers, and visitors follow the infection prevention procedures listed below.

  • Discuss safety concerns with your long-term care staff.
  • Wash your hands to prevent the spread of germs and remind your care staff and visitors to do so as well.
  • Make sure your care staff always uses new needles and syringes.
  • Follow the instructions on your medication packages.
  • Take all of your antibiotics as prescribed. Do not share your antibiotics with others, and remember antibiotics don’t fight viruses, such as the common cold.
  • Educate yourself on the signs and symptoms of infections, such as influenza and MRSA.
  • Protect yourself and those around you by getting a flu shot each year.

 Learn more from CDC.

 Infection Information

CDC Resources

Infection Control in Health Care Facilities (February 2013)
This CDC site is good for general research related to infection control in health care settings. It links to documents about infection control in long-term care facilities, many of which focus on influenza infection control.

Hand Hygiene in Health Care Settings
This CDC informational webpage provides healthcare workers and patients with a variety of resources including guidelines for providers, patient empowerment materials, the latest technological advances in hand hygiene adherence measurement, frequently asked questions, and links to promotional and educational tools published by the WHO, universities, and health departments.

Interim Guidance for Infection Control Within Healthcare Settings When Caring for Confirmed Cases, Probable Cases, and Cases Under Investigation for Infection with Novel Influenza A Viruses Associated with Severe Disease (January 2014) 
This CDC guide provides recommendations for Influenza A virus control when a suspected or confirmed case occurs in a health care facility. Recommendations include minimizing potential exposures through proper hygiene, glove, and facemask use, monitoring and managing ill and exposed health care personnel, and managing visitor movement within the facility.

Long-Term Care and Other Residential Facilities Pandemic Influenza Planning Checklist
This is a checklist aimed to assess strengths and weaknesses of long-term care facilities’ current preparations for a pandemic influenza outbreak. It includes recommended elements of an influenza pandemic plan, which typically include education, training, communication information, and vaccination plans.

Prevention Strategies for Seasonal Influenza in Healthcare Settings (January 2013)
This CDC document outlines prevention strategies that can help reduce seasonal influenza incidence in health care settings such as long-term care facilities. Strategies include administration of the influenza vaccine, implementation of respiratory hygiene and cough etiquette, and implementation of environmental infection control measures.

Settings Where High-Risk Persons and Their Contacts May Be Targeted For Vaccination (March 2011)
This notice from the CDC identifies nursing homes and other residential long-term care facilities as settings targeted for vaccination due to the concentration of high-risk persons.

Consumer Voice Resources

To learn more about infection prevention in catheter-associated urinary tract infections, visit Consumer Voice's website.

Watch Consumer Voice's webinar on infection prevention, Engaging Ombudsmen, Residents and Families as Partners in Preventing Catheter-Associated Urinary Tract Infections (CAUTI).

Additional Resources

National Action Plan for Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria (March 2015)
Developed in response to Executive Order 13676: CombatingAntibiotic-Resistant Bacteria—issued by President Barack Obama on September 18, 2014—the National Action Plan outlines steps for implementing the National Strategy for Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria and addressing the policy recommendations of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST). Although its primary purpose is to guide activities by the U.S. Government, the National Action Plan is also designed to guide action by public health, healthcare, and veterinary partners in a common effort to address urgent and serious drug-resistant threats that affect people in the U.S. and around the world.

Infection Prevention in Nursing Homes Webinar (February 2014) 
This webinar was held on February 25, 2014. Topics covered include: understanding how infections can be spread and how the Ombudsman can be a part of the solution (hand washing; etc.); addressing issues with residents who are in isolation due to an infection; encouraging the nursing home to use this tool if infections are an issue; etc. Access the Infection Prevention in Nursing Homes Webinar and the handouts from the webinar Toolkit and PowerPoint.

Flu Information

The FLU Ends with U – www.flu.gov

The flu season usually starts in October and lasts around six months according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). According to the CDC, the best prevention to getting the fly is to get a vaccination.

For older adults, the seasonal flu can be very serious. According to flu.gov, each year in the U.S., deaths from flu-related causes range from 3,300 to 48,600 (average of 23,600) and more than 200,000 are hospitalized from serious flu complications. Ninety percent of flu-related deaths and more than half of flu-related hospitalizations occur in people age 65 and older.

Get information on the 2018-2019 flu season online

Read the CDC guidance on influenza outbreak management in long-term care facilities
The CDC and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) state that certain people should get vaccinated each year. Individuals at high risk of having serious flu complications or that they live with or care for people at high risk for serious complications are encouraged to receive the vaccination. It is recommended that individuals working in health facilities, including nursing homes, and people who live in long-term care facilities get vaccinated.

Prevention Methods

Get the Flu Shot
Getting vaccinated means not only protecting yourself but not spreading the flu to others. CDC recommends getting the vaccine as soon as it becomes available as it can take the body about two weeks to build up immunity.

Everyday Preventive Actions

  •  Avoid people who are sick with the flu
  • Stay home when you are sick
  • Cover your mouth or nose when coughing or sneezing
  • Wash your hands often
  • Don't touch your eyes, nose or mouth
  • Practice good health habits, such as eating properly, getting enough sleep and exercise
  • Get plenty of sleep, stay physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids and eat nutritious food

Know the Symptoms 

Seek Medical Advice: Flu Symptoms Develop Quickly
In some cases, a medical evaluation or treatment with antiviral drugs is necessary. It is important that antiviral drugs be used early to treat flu in people.

Flu symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people may also have vomiting and diarrhea. People may be infected with the flu and have respiratory symptoms without a fever.

Flu Symptoms

  • fever (often high)
  • headache
  • extreme tiredness
  • dry cough
  • sore throat
  • runny or stuffy nose
  • muscle aches
  • stomach symptoms, including nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, may be present

Information to Share with Consumers

      Flu Vaccine Information Specifically for People 65 Years and Older


View Archive here

Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Influenza and Pneumococcal Immunization Rates among Medicare Beneficiaries (April 2012)
This report released by AARP found that immunization rates among older African Americans and Hispanics are lower than those for Whites.

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