Rhode Island Health Officials and Health Executives Urge Public to Get Flu Shots

Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, Director of Rhode Island’s Department of Health –Photo Credit: Brown University

Last week, Rhode Island health officials and the state’s top health care executives kicked off the state’s 2018-2019 flu vaccination campaign to educate the Rhode to get their annual flu shots to reduce the risks of getting the infectious disease.  Although 480,000 Rhode Islanders were vaccinated last year. the event’s goal was to increase the vaccination rate for the 2018-2019 flu season.

According to RIDOH, “Although physicians recommend flu shots for everyone six months of age and older, flu shots are especially important for certain people.  They include the elderly, healthcare workers, young children, pregnant women, and people with chronic conditions.  Examples of chronic medical conditions includes diabetes cancer, heart disease and asthma.”

A Call for Action…Get Vaccinated

The October 5th even was held at the West Warwick Senior and Community Center just a five minute drive from Westview Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.   At the event, Ana Novais, the Executive Director of Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH), called on Rhode Islanders to get vaccinated to protect themselves against getting the flu.   And, she was supported by many of Rhode Island’s major health care players that included: Jeanne LaChance, President and CEO of Thundermist Health Center; James E. Fanale, MD, President and CEO of Care New England; Latha Sivaprasad, MD, Senior VP and Chief Medical Officer for Rhode Island Hospital and Hasbro Children’s Hospital; Kimberly O’Connell, VP and chief Strategy Officer for South County Health;  and John Holiver, CEO of Charter Health.

“A flu shot is the single best way to protect yourself and the ones you love against the flu.  When you get a flue shot you are not only protecting yourself, you are also protecting the people in your life by limiting the spread of the flu.  This is especially important if you spend time with younger children or the elderly, who are more susceptible to the effects of the flu,” said Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, RIDOH’s Director in a statement announcing the state’s call for getting vaccinations.

 Dr. Alexander-Scott noted that there are places around Rhode Islander that provide free flu shots to those who could not afford the vaccination.  “Earlier this week, public flu clinics opened in schools throughout the state and clinics will be happening in difference cities and towns for the next two months,” she said.  (A listing of evening flu clinics is available at www.health.ri.gov/flu. Flu shots are also available at other community clinics, doctor’s offices, and pharmacies.)

James E. Fanale, MD, President and CEO, Care New England, adds  “We know that the best way to protect against the flu virus is for people to get vaccinated every year.  But it is also important for people to see their primary care providers regularly rather than waiting and going to the ER when they think they might have the flu.”

“Thundermist Health Center is proud to partner with the Rhode Island Department of Health and West Warwick Health Equity Zone to kick off flu vaccinations in Rhode Island,” said Jeanne LaChance, President and CEO of Thundermist Health Center. ”We  encourage everyone, especially those most at risk, to get vaccinated right away.”

Keeping the Flu at Arm’s Length

While flu shots are safe and effective, some people experience a slight ache or low-grade fever after getting the shot.  This means that the body is developing an immune response to the flu virus.  These mild side effects are much less significant than the actual flu, which causes most people to stay in bed for a week.  Don’t believe the myth that you can get the flu from getting a flu shot.

Keeping the flu at arm’s length can also be as simple as washing your hands (with warm water and soap) throughout the day.  Use alcohol-based hand gel if soap and water are not available.  Cough and Sneeze into your elbow to prevent spreading the infectious disease.

By touching your eyes, noses, or month, you spread germs.  Also,  use household disinfectant to keep sterilize the surfaces of bedside tables, surfaces in the bathroom, and toys.  Most important, if you have flu-like symptoms (fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills fatigue, and sometimes diarrhea and vomiting), postpone your visit to Westview Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, until you feel better.

For more details about the flu go to www.health.ri.gov/flu/ or call 222-5960/ RI Relay 711.







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