USC Verdugo Hills Hospital CEO Keith Hobbs receives the flu vaccine in September. (Photo/Courtesy Katrina Garcia)

USC Verdugo Hills Hospital CEO Keith Hobbs receives the flu vaccine in September. (Photo/Courtesy Katrina Garcia)

With flu season approaching, Keck Medicine of USC physicians, nurses and staff are being reminded that flu vaccinations are an important step toward protecting patients.

The flu is a contagious respiratory illness that, in serious cases, can result in hospitalization or death.

An annual flu vaccination is the best way to prevent the flu. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that as many as 3,300 die each year from the flu.

Transmission of the flu virus can occur even before the illness is evident, said Stephanie Hall, MD, chief medical officer of Keck Medicine.

“Protecting our patients against exposure is an important part of care delivery,” Hall said. “One way to do this is to get vaccinated to reduce the risk of unintended exposure and transmission of the flu virus.”

All Keck Medicine health care workers are required to receive a flu vaccine before Nov. 1.

A flu vaccination is not only a requirement of Keck Medicine. The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health mandates that health care personnel in acute care hospitals, long-term care facilities and intermediate care facilities in Los Angeles County be vaccinated against influenza or wear a protective mask. The goal of the order is to lower the rates of transmission of influenza among health care personnel and the vulnerable populations they serve.

To accommodate Keck Medicine physicians, nurses and staff who have a documented allergy to the flu vaccine, history of Guillain-Barre Syndrome, or who may have religious beliefs that precludes them from accepting the vaccine, wearing a mask will be permitted during the flu season whenever inside a Keck Medicine building or within the vicinity of a patient. Employees must sign the Employee Health Declination form that provides reasons and support for the declination.

This year, preservative-free and egg-free vaccines are available on request.

Free flu vaccines are available through Employee Health Departments at Keck Hospital of USC, USC Norris and USC-Verdugo Hills Hospital.

— Douglas Morino


Tips for preventing the flu:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing
  • Wash your hands
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.

— Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention