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What Is Flu Crew Nursing? The Ultimate Guide

What Is Flu Crew Nursing? The Ultimate Guide

Did you know that in a bad flu season, up to 52,000 people have died from flu? This is why flu vaccines are so important: Flu shots reduce the risk of intensive care unit (ICU) admission by up to 82 percent. Additionally, people who get the flu shot are approximately 35 percent less likely to get the flu that season. Bear in mind that this protection declines over time, and flu viruses also change constantly, so people must get the flu shot every year to maintain optimal protection.

This is where flu crew nursing comes in! Learn all there is to know about this important nursing role in our ultimate guide to flu crew nursing: level of education, certifications, responsibilities, salary, and more.

Table of Contents

What Does Flu Stand For?

The colloquial term “flu” stands for the influenza virus, specifically types A and B, which are responsible for the seasonal flu. Although there are four types of influenza viruses—A, B, C, and D—types C and D are not associated with the seasonal human epidemics that occur almost every winter in the United States. Abbreviations such as H1N1 refer to the specific subtype combinations of different influenza A viruses.

What Does Influenza Mean in Medical Terminology?

Influenza is a virus that affects thousands of people every year. Many of these people require hospitalization, and some even die. Although the flu vaccine does not offer complete protection against this virus, in most people, it lowers the intensity and duration of symptoms. In particular, people with chronic illnesses, diabetes, lung disease, older adults, and children should get the flu vaccine every year at the beginning of winter to prevent complications requiring hospital admissions.

The following are general flu vaccine recommendations:

  • Everyone six months and older should receive the flu vaccine.
  • People with egg allergy who only develop hives should receive the vaccine.
  • Resuscitation equipment must always be in the vaccination room, and patients must be observed for ten to fifteen minutes.
  • The flu shot has proven to be more effective than the nasal flu vaccine.
  • The flu vaccine can be given to pregnant women.
  • Since vaccination often is not effective in individuals over sixty-five, they should receive high-dose formulations.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends getting vaccinated in September or October before the virus begins to spread. Although, ideally, everyone should be vaccinated by the end of October, it is still beneficial to get vaccinated afterward since flu usually peaks in February and significant activity continues until May.

Here are some additional considerations regarding vaccination timing:

  • Adults—in particular those sixty-five years and older—should avoid getting the flu shot early (in July or August) because protection may decrease over time. That said, adults may consider early vaccination if they will be unable to receive the vaccination at a later date.
  • For children requiring two doses of flu vaccine, it is recommended to get the first dose as soon as it is available since they will need to wait at least four weeks to receive the second dose. Children requiring only one dose and people in the third trimester of pregnancy may also receive the shot in July or August—in the case of the later, the vaccine offers protection for the newborn babies. 

The most effective interventions to prevent and treat influenza require an interprofessional team, including a nurse, a nurse practitioner, a primary care provider, an internist, a pharmacist, an emergency department physician, and an infectious disease specialist. Furthermore, the key to the success of these interventions is patient education.  

Flu Crew Nurse

What Is a Flu Clinic?

Flu vaccination clinics are set up at different locations as soon as the new flu vaccine is available. Most insurance plans cover flu vaccines completely. People can get vaccinated at most pharmacies, their doctor’s office, urgent care centers, and county health departments. People without insurance can still get a free or low-cost flu shot at their local community clinic or public health department. In some cases, influenza vaccination clinics may be set up at workplaces, and there are even drive-thru vaccination options. Furthermore, most schools have visiting nurse teams that offer vaccination to students. The aim of flu vaccination clinics is to reduce the number of people flooding emergency departments during winter, which also reduces healthcare costs. 

The following are flu vaccination statistics for the 2022-2023 season for adults eighteen and older up until April 8th, 2023:

  • 41.48 million vaccine doses were administered in pharmacies—1.02 more than in the previous period.
  • 27.96 million doses were administered in physician medical offices—2.93 million fewer than in the previous period.
  • Data for vaccinations received at workplaces and other locations is not available.

Finally, many healthcare professionals can administer flu shots, including physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and dentists.

What Is the Role of a Flu Shot Nurse?

A seasonal flu clinic nurse may be responsible for all of the following duties

  • Setting up for the clinic
  • Delivering vaccinations
  • Collecting payment and/or insurance information

Flu shot nurses should also educate patients and/or parents on comfort and care strategies after vaccination, including information on dealing with common side effects such as injection site pain, fever, and fussiness (usually in infants). They should also explain when it is necessary to notify their healthcare provider about any concerns regarding the vaccination or to seek medical attention. It is best to provide after-care information before administering vaccines so that parents can comfort their children immediately after the shot. Pain relievers can be used to reduce fever and injection-site pain. Aspirin is not recommended for children and adolescents; therefore, a non-aspirin-containing pain reliever should be used with these populations. 

Now, being part of a flu crew may involve more than giving shots; flu clinic nurse jobs may also involve influenza nursing care. On that note, here are responsibilities of an influenza care nurse: 

  • Assessing patient vitals
  • Listening to patient’s lungs for wheezing and rales
  • Assessing oxygenation and respiration
  • Assessing the work of breathing since viscous secretions and poor cough can make breathing difficult
  • Monitoring temperature
  • Providing oxygen if saturation is less than 94%
  • Looking for cyanosis
  • Monitoring intake and output
  • Encouraging hydration
  • Placing the patient in the semi-Fowler position
  • Encouraging patients to cough
  • Administering bronchodilators if the patient has wheezing
  • Performing postural drainage if the patient has thick secretions
  • Encouraging deep breathing
  • Suctioning as needed
  • Teaching patients about incentive spirometry
  • Teaching the patient about the importance of handwashing
  • Educating about the flu vaccine
  • Encouraging isolation and limited contact until symptoms subside
  • Encouraging patients to quit smoking
  • Emphasizing the avoidance of crowded areas
  • Teaching patients to sneeze or cough in a tissue to avoid the spread of aerosols
  • Telling patients to rest at home

The following situations are warning signs indicating that influenza care nurses should seek additional help:

  • Fever
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Respiratory distress
  • Low oxygen saturation
  • Altered mental status

How to Become a Flu Crew Nurse and How Long Does It Take

Nurses with different levels of education and experience can contribute to the prevention and treatment of influenza: licensed practical nurses (LPNs), registered nurses (RNs), and nurse practitioners (NPs). 

Aspiring LPNs must complete a practical nursing program, which usually takes about a year, and then pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN).

Aspiring RNs must complete either a two-year associate’s degree in nursing (ADN) or a four-year bachelor’s of science in nursing (BSN) and then pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN).

Finally, to become nurse practitioners, RNs must continue their studies, completing master’s or doctoral degree programs. Additionally, NPs must obtain national certification. With this in mind, becoming an NP takes an additional two to six years.

Immunization Nurse Certification

The CDC offers many options for healthcare workers—including physicians, nurses, health educators, and pharmacists—to train and specialize in immunization. These educational offerings are based on the vaccine recommendations made by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practice (ACIP). Here are some available options:

  • General Best Practice Guidelines for Immunization: This publication is intended for healthcare workers who vaccinate patients in a variety of settings, including provider’s offices, pharmacies, hospitals, community health centers, public health clinics, and schools. It is a self-paced document that takes approximately three hours to complete.
  • How Nurses and Medical Assistants Can Foster a Culture of Immunization in the Practice: This continuing education activity offers practical strategies to improve vaccination rates, including how to deliver vaccine recommendations effectively and address parents’ frequently asked questions. The format is web-on-demand and it takes about forty minutes to complete.
  • Immunization: You Call the Shots: This is a series of web-based modules providing vaccine recommendations, links to resource materials, and self-tests to assess learning. These modules are self-paced, but each module takes approximately sixty to ninety minutes to complete. 
  • Webinar Series for Pink Book: This series of eighteen webinars covers the principles of vaccination, immunization strategies for providers, general recommendations, and specific information about vaccines and the diseases they can prevent. Each of these webinars takes about sixty to ninety minutes. 

How Much Does a Flu Crew Nurse Make?

The average flu crew nurse’s salary depends on many factors, but the most significant is the type of nursing license nurses hold. On average, LPNs make $55,860 annually; RNs make $89,010, and NPs make $124,680. Another important factor is the setting in which flu crew nurses work. With this in mind, here are average salaries in different settings by type of license.

The following are average LPN salaries by industry:

  • Outpatient care centers: $61,610
  • Nursing care facilities (skilled nursing facilities): $58,440
  • Continuing care retirement communities and assisted living facilities for the elderly: $56,830
  • Home health care services: $56,370
  • General medical and surgical hospitals: $51,360
  • Offices of physicians: $49,660

Here are a average RN salaries by industry:

  • Outpatient care centers: $97,200
  • Specialty hospitals (except psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals): $91,290
  • General medical and surgical hospitals: $90,600
  • Home health care services: $82,920
  • Offices of physicians: $79,810
  • Nursing care facilities (skilled nursing facilities): $77,190

Here are average NP salaries by industry:

  • Home health care services: $148,960
  • Outpatient care centers: $134,030
  • General medical and surgical hospitals: $129,330
  • Offices of physicians: $121,880
  • Offices of other health practitioners: $112,660

What Is Immunization Nursing Like?

As with any type of work, experiences in immunization nursing vary. Some will love it; some will hate it. And as with many things in life, you might have to give it a try before you can decide whether or not it’s right for you. That said, to give you a peek at what immunization nursing is like, here is a testimonial from an immunization nurse on Reddit:

“I just wanted to share this option for those who would like a new path. I've done hospital acute care, LTC, home care, and pre- and post- surgical at a luxury clinic. Did I get paid more in those jobs? Yes. But I didn't like the night shifts, weekends and holiday hours. Now I give vaccinations in a clinic a few days a week but do outreach activities as well. With public health you give not only to those who have little money, but to those who are traveling: yellow fever, rabies, etc. I reach out to facilities to see if they need any help with their flu vaccinations. I inspect local healthcare facilities who administer vaccines to ensure that they are storing and administering correctly. I go to the homeless shelter to vaccinate. I make powerpoints and give outreach presentations regarding infectious diseases. If there was an outbreak, I would go out to educate groups and administer vaccinations. It's a diverse career and you learn something new every day. Plus, patients are stable, healthy, happy and grateful. Just a thought for those who need somethin

Is Immunization Nursing Hard?

Immunization Nursing

“Hard” is a very relative term. Hospice, intensive care unit, and medical-surgical nursing are all hard but for different reasons. Whereas in hospice nursing, nurses feel stress from knowing their patients will die, med-surg nurses feel extremely overworked, and ICU nurses deal with very complex cases. Similarly, immunization nursing has it’s own breed of difficulty. Here is a description of the challenges of vaccinating all day: 

“It's not like it's hard or super stressful. But one time, a nurse got sick and I had to [go] into the store to cover her as a pharmacist. I just did her job, immunize all day…I have a newfound respect for the nurse immunizers. Again, it's not like it was super hard, but I gave 120 shots total from 10-730. The system schedules 3 appointments every 15 minutes, so you get 5 minutes a person. Sounds like a lot of time? Sure, but keep in mind if there are ANY problems it can throw you off your time and you can fall behind…If the patient is wearing an over shirt that needs to be unbuttoned that they stupidly didn't unbutton before entering the vaccine room, -45 seconds. If they can barely walk/fit their walker or crane through the door, more time lost (I usually offer to vaccinate them in the waiting area if they have trouble walking, but some of them are prideful [or just want privacy ig] and insist on coming in the room). Patient has any questions about the vaccine? More time loss…Some kids will cry for 10 minutes straight. It's actually easier if they cry though, I tell the parent to take the kid on a "5minute break" while I do the next customer…All this is to say an appointment can easily take more than 5 minutes, causing you to fall behind, and people aren't happy when they made a 4:00 appointment…[and] aren't seen until 4:20 o

Why Choose Flu Crew Nursing

For many, the appeal of flu shot nurse jobs is their temporary nature since most flu vaccinations are given during fall and winter. This set up is attractive to nurses who enjoy flexibility and changing work settings. 

Another type of work that offers a high degree of flexibility—not to mention higher-than-average hourly rates—is per diem or PRN nursing. Per diem means per day, and PRN stands for pro re nata, which means as needed. As their names indicate, these contract nursing jobs are temporary by nature, allowing nurses to determine how many shifts per week they would like to work, on what days, at which facilities, etc. 

What’s more, RNs or LPNs may be able to find per diem flu shot jobs here!

What Makes a Good Immunization Nurse: Tips for New Nurses

There is no doubt that one of the most important skills for a flu vaccination nurse is to give effective and painless shots. On this note, here are some tips that immunization nurses have shared on Reddit:

“Make sure the rubbing alcohol youve used to wipe off their arm is dry before you puncture. Only takes like 2-3 seconds”

“Getting the patient to drop their shoulder really helps with pain. Have their arm hanging down, not on their lap. You can see they do it as their shoulder drop…It makes the muscle you’re injecting into relax, even if they tense up, that muscle usually stays relaxed.”

Final Thoughts on Flu Crew Nursing

As a nurse, do you enjoy educating patients and focusing on prevention rather than treatment? Then, flu vaccination nurse jobs may be the ideal career path for you. If you’d like to continue exploring your options, browse our ultimate guides on a wide range of nursing specialties.

Want to follow the money? Read our Ultimate Guide to the Highest-Paying Nurse Specialties [Updated 2023].

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