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President's Message

Sept. 28, 2020

It’s More Important than Ever to Get Your Flu Shot

Larry Antonucci portrait

This year’s flu season will be unlike others because we will be contending with two serious, contagious, respiratory illnesses that have similar symptoms and are spread in similar ways. With a vaccine readily available for only one of the viruses, we can protect ourselves, our families, friends and community, while also protecting our health care resources by getting the flu shot. So, while we continue to fight the spread of COVID-19 in our community, it is more important than ever for as many of us as possible to get the flu shot.

At Lee Health, we require our employees, 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. We do this to offer the best possible option for flu prevention and to create community immunity, or a wall of defense and protection against the virus, throughout our organization.

The flu vaccine is the best and most important step to prevent flu. Although it is still possible to get sick even after vaccination, the flu shot helps reduce 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 disease 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, that it takes about two weeks after vaccination for the antibodies to develop in the body.

With COVID-19 and the flu having similar symptoms, it may be hard to tell the difference between them, and even a common cold. Diagnostic testing can help, and you should reach out to your medical provider to ensure a proper diagnosis. But, to help our community recognize the key differences between the flu, COVID-19 and common cold (in adults), our Lee Health Infection Prevention team created a flyer that breaks it all down. Go to to learn more about the symptoms, incubation period, recovery, what to do if you experience the symptoms and more.

Join us and get your flu shot! The more people in our community who get vaccinated, the greater the wall of defense. Talk to your health care provider if you have questions about seasonal flu, COVID-19 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.