November 1, 2018

Help Create Community Immunity: Get Your Flu Shot

Larry Antonucci portrait

Larry Antonucci

Last year’s flu season was intense, and Lee Health saw multiple consecutive weeks of higher than normal incidences of flu. We spent many weeks urging our community members, through the local media, to practice good hand hygiene, to cover their coughs, to stay home if they were sick and to get the influenza vaccine. Now that the 2018-2019 flu season is upon us, we know it may be unpredictable in its severity, but we also know that the flu vaccine is the first and most important step in protecting us against the virus and its potentially serious complications.

Rooted in our mission of being a trusted partner, and focused on providing the safest care, we require all Lee Health employees and volunteers to participate in the Influenza Prevention Program. The same requirement is in place for our medical staff, as well as students, contracted workers and vendors. Participation in our Influenza Prevention Program involves our team members receiving a flu shot or requesting and receiving a medical or religious exemption. Those on our team who opt for the vaccine receive a “Flu Proof” badge sticker, which alerts their colleagues, our patients and our visitors that they received the flu shot. Those who choose and receive an exemption display a “Mask” sticker on their badge, which indicates that they will wear a mask when within 6 feet of patients during the flu season.

It is not just health care team members who should receive the flu vaccine, though. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends everyone 6 months of age or older receive the vaccine. The CDC says vaccination is particularly important for those who are at high risk of developing flu-related complications, including:

  • Adults age 65 years and older
  • Pregnant women
  • Residents in nursing homes or long-term care facilities
  • Children younger than 5, but especially younger than 2 years of age
  • People who have medical conditions, such as asthma, heart disease, chronic lung diseases and weakened immune systems, among others

Remember, flu is very contagious and can be transmitted to others beginning one day before symptoms develop and up to five to seven days after illness begins. Additionally, it takes about two weeks after vaccination for the antibodies that protect you from flu to develop in the body. The CDC recommends that people get the flu vaccine by the end of October to ensure protection, so if you have not yet gotten your flu shot, talk to your health care provider.

As the major destination for health care in our community, it is our goal to achieve the highest level of flu vaccine coverage within our community to create a wall of defense (immunity). Encouraging our families, friends and neighbors to get vaccinated adds layers of protection and helps us create community immunity. By requiring participation in the Influenza Prevention Program, we are protecting ourselves, our patients, our families, friends and neighbors. Join us and get vaccinated.

Yours in Health,

Larry Antonucci signatureLarry Antonucci, M.D., MBA

President & CEO, Lee Health

Thank you for your support. Together we are Caring People. Inspiring Health.