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President's Message

NOVEMBER 5, 2019

Roll Up Your Sleeve for Community Immunity

Join Us and Get the Flu Vaccine

Larry Antonucci portrait

Flu viruses can circulate throughout the year, but typically increase in October and usually peak between December and February.

At Lee Health, we track our flu numbers each year. In 2018, we saw a significant increase in flu cases in January (1,751) and February (1,206), especially compared to the same months in 2017 (474 and 726) and 2019 (732 and 895).

Even in July and August of this year, we saw more flu cases than those same months last year (71 and 80 cases versus 23 and 13 in 2018). Though we have insight into the severity of the flu season based on the experiences in Australia (their flu season occurs before ours), we cannot be 100% certain of how we will fair. That is why it is best to prepare by getting the flu vaccine.

Lee Health requires all employees and volunteers, medical staff, students, contracted workers and vendors to participate in the Influenza Immunization and Prevention Policy by receiving a flu shot or an approved medical or religious exemption. Those on our team who opt for the flu vaccine receive a “Flu Proof” badge sticker, which alerts their colleagues, our patients and visitors that they received the flu shot. Those receiving exemptions display a “Mask” sticker on their badge, which indicates that they will wear a mask when within 6 feet of patients during flu season.

The flu vaccine is the best and most important step to prevent flu. While it still is possible to get sick even after vaccination, getting the flu shot reduces the severity of the illness. Because of this protection, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends everyone 6 months of age and older receive the vaccine.

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

The flu is very contagious and can be transmitted to others beginning one day before symptoms develop and up to five to seven days after the illness begins. Remember, too: It takes about two weeks after vaccination for the antibodies to develop in the body.

Team members throughout Lee Health have been rolling up their sleeves to get the flu shot. The more people in our community who get vaccinated, the greater the wall of defense. Join us and roll up your sleeve so we can achieve high levels of vaccine coverage, also known as community immunity. Talk to your health care provider if you have questions about seasonal flu or the flu vaccine.

Yours in Health,

Larry Antonucci, M.D., MBA

President & CEO, Lee Health

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