2014 Flu Shot FAQs

2014 Flu Shot Frequently Asked Questions
Greater Dayton Area Hospital Association
Kettering Health Network
Mandatory Influenza Vaccination Program

The Greater Dayton Area Hospital Association (GDAHA) has recommended that all hospitals in our area require flu vaccination for their employees. Kettering Health Network has agreed to accept this recommendation for all employees beginning in the 2012 flu season.

  1.  What are the facts about flu?
  • A required flu program will protect patients, employees, employee’s family members, and our community from flu infection by getting a flu vaccination every year.

Every year, the flu causes:

  • 36, 000 deaths
  • More than 200, 000 extra hospitalizations
  • Higher morbidity, mortality, and length of stay for hospitalized patients
  • Flu is the leading cause of vaccine-preventable death in the United States every year


  1. Is the vaccine safe?

Flu vaccines are approved by the Food and Drug Administration and are the safest, best way to protect people from getting the flu.


  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration keep the vaccines safe in the United States.
  • Flu vaccines have been safely made and given since the 1940s. Influenza vaccine is very safe.
  • The most common side effects of the injectable (inactivated) influenza vaccine include soreness, redness, or swelling at the site of the injection. These reactions are temporary and occur in 15–20% of people receiving the shot. Less than 1% of vaccine recipients develop symptoms such as fever, chills, and muscle aches for one to two days following the shot. These symptoms are more likely to occur in a person who has never been exposed to the influenza virus or vaccine. Experiencing these side effects does not mean that you are getting influenza.


  1. What type of vaccine is offered?
  • A trivalent inactivated vaccine (TIV)
  • A completely egg free vaccine is available and can be administered to anyone over the age of 18
  • For those who do not like a shot, a nasal-spray flu vaccine (LAIV) can be given as long as the person does not have contact with severely immunocompromised patients (i.e., patients receiving bone marrow transplants). The nasal spray is approved for use in healthy people who are two through 49 years of age and are not pregnant.
  1. Can the vaccine cause the flu?
  • Flu vaccines work by helping the body’s defenses in the event a person is exposed to the flu virus.
  • Flu shots contain dead viruses that do not make you sick.
  • The nasal-spray vaccine contains live, weakened viruses that will not cause the same symptoms as the flu does.
  • It takes about two weeks after receiving flu vaccine to develop full immunity, so it is possible for a person to get the flu right after they got their flu vaccine.


  1. When should I get my flu vaccine?
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that people should get their yearly flu vaccine as soon as it is available.Vaccination before December is best so that protective antibodies are in place before flu activity is at its highest. At Kettering Health Network, the vaccine is usually available by October. The CDC encourages people to get vaccinated throughout the flu season, which can begin as early as October or as late as May.
  • The flu vaccine is now mandatory for all employees. We expect flu shots to be given in the fall as soon as the vaccine is available. If you have any questions about the mandatory flu vaccine, talk to your manager or supervisor, or contact the Employee Health or Infection Prevention and Control Departments.
  1. Why do I need to get vaccinated against the flu every year?
  • You can get the flu more than once during your lifetime. The natural protection built up from having the flu caused by one virus strain doesn’t always protect you when a new strain is going around.
  • A vaccine made against flu viruses going around last year may not protect against a new virus that is going around. That’s why the flu vaccine is updated every year to include current viruses.
  • Another reason to get the flu vaccine every year is due to the fact that immunity declines over time and may be too low to protect you after a year goes by.
  1. How can you make me take the vaccine?


  • Like hand washing, receiving the flu vaccine is something healthcare workers can do every year to prevent spreading the virus to our patients and other co-workers.
  • Kettering Health Network has adopted the policy requiring that all staff receive the flu vaccine or be exempted due to an approved medical reason or religious belief.
  • Compliance with mandatory vaccination will be required by all employees by November 14, 2014. Employees who fail to be vaccinated/exempted will be removed from the schedule immediately, beginning November 16, 2014, and may be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination.  


  1. I don’t work in a clinical area. Why do I need the flu vaccine?


  • Employees that do not directly take care of patients may still interact with employees that do and can spread the virus to them. We are a healthcare organization; we all have a responsibility to stop the transmission of the flu.


  1. What will you accept as proof if I am receiving the flu vaccine from another employer/facility/drug store?


  • We will accept written proof from the provider who gave the flu vaccine with the date, your name, type and site that you received the vaccine included on it.


  1. What if I have an allergy to the vaccine?


  • We will allow medical exemptions following CDC guidelines, which state the following people should not be vaccinated with flu vaccine:
  • People who have had a severe, documented allergy to a previous flu vaccine.
  • People who have developed Guillian-Barre syndrome within six weeks following a flu vaccine should consult with their physician
  1. What if I have an egg allergy?
  • According to the CDC: “only a severe allergic reaction (e.g., anaphylaxis) to egg protein is a contraindication” (MMWR August 26, 2011/60(33);1128-1132)
  • “Influenza vaccine should be given to persons with less severe egg allergies as long as certain conditions are observed,” says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.
  • Employees and volunteers with egg allergies can safely be vaccinated with the Flucelvax vaccine
  1. What about other serious reactions?
    • Serious reactions to the vaccine are very rare. Such reactions are most likely the result of an allergy to a vaccine component.
    • In 1976, the swine flu (injectable) vaccine was associated with a severe illness called Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS), a nerve condition that can result in temporary paralysis. Injectable influenza vaccines since then have not been clearly linked with GBS, because the disease is so rare it is difficult to obtain a precise estimate of any increase in risk. However, as a precaution, any person without a high risk medical condition who previously experienced GBS within six weeks of an influenza vaccination should generally not be vaccinated.
  1. How do I obtain a medical exemption for the influenza vaccine?


  • If a true medical exemption is present, you will need to contact the Employee Health Department to receive a copy of the Medical Exemption Form. The forms will also be available on the intranet at each Employee Health web site.
  • You will need to take the form to your healthcare provider and have them complete the form.
  • The completed form should be given to the Employee Health office in your facility and will either be immediately approved, or sent to the Employee Influenza Vaccine Exemption Committee for review. This form will be placed in your Employee Health file.
  • Medical exemptions must be received no later than October 15, 2014.


  1. Why can’t I just decline the vaccine and wear a mask?
  • Declining the vaccine is not an option if you want to continue employment at Kettering Health Network.
  • The best way to prevent getting the flu is to be vaccinated. Wearing a droplet mask is not a replacement for vaccination.


  1. “I always get sick from the flu vaccine…is Kettering Health Network going to pay for my time off or medical care when I get sick from the vaccine?”
  2. Is it safe for pregnant women to get influenza vaccine?
    • In fact, vaccination with the flu shot is recommended for women who will be pregnant during the flu season.
    • Pregnant women are at a higher risk for serious medical problems if they get the flu. One recent study found that the risk of flu-related hospitalizations was four times higher in healthy pregnant women in the fourteenth week of pregnancy or later than in nonpregnant women.
    • In addition, vaccination of the mother will provide some protection for her newborn infant.
  • Any reaction or side effect directly related to the flu shot that requires medical care should be reported to Employee Health and, if necessary, will be evaluated through the Employee Health Department or an Emergency Department.
  • The flu shot is made with a dead virus and cannot give you the flu.
  •  The CDC reports that the most common side effect is soreness or redness where the shot was given.
  • Fever following the flu vaccine is uncommon, and allergic reactions are rare.
  1. What can you tell me about the preservatives in the vaccine?
  • Phenol, aluminum, and ethylene glycol are not in the vaccines we are using.
  • Thimerosal is a preservative that has been used to prevent contamination in vaccines for more than 50 years. It is made of a type of mercury known as ethylmercury. It is different from methylmercury, which is the form that is in fish and seafood. At very high levels, methylmercury can be toxic to people, especially to the neurological development of infants.
  • People who eat seafood probably get more mercury than anyone getting the vaccine.
  • Mercury in fish = 1.1 – 41.1 micrograms of mercury per ounce
  • One can of tuna = 29 micrograms of mercury
  • Thimerosol (mercury-containing preservative) in vaccine = less than 1 microgram/dose
  • Kettering Health Network does have preservative free vaccine available for those employees that have conditions requiring it.
  1. The religious doctrine that I follow is contrary to influenza vaccination. How do I obtain a religious exemption for the influenza vaccine?
  • If a religious conflict is present, you will need to contact the Employee Health Department to receive a copy of the Religious Exemption Form.
  • You will need to complete the form and have it notarized. Notary services are available at most hospital campuses. Please contact Employee Health or Human Resources with questions regarding notary availability at your campus.
  • The completed form should be given to the Employee Health office in your facility and will be reviewed by the Employee Influenza Vaccine Exemption Committee. This form will be placed in your Employee Health file.
  • Religious exemptions must be received by October 15, 2014.
  1. How do non-KHN employees, contract employees, vendors and students receive the vaccine?

Non-Kettering Health Network employees, contract employees, vendors, and students who physically work within a KHN facility for one or more days between 10/1 and 3/31 are required to receive the vaccine. They are to contact their employer or school administrator for the name of the facility or medical provider with whom they have contracted to administer the vaccine. These individuals are not eligible to receive that vaccine at KHN.

October 22, 2014