NMC Commentary

Is it really that important for NMC Staff & Public to Get a Flu Shot?

Yes, NMC believes so strongly in this that every year we host our own internal effort to have as close to 100% of our staff as possible vaccinated against the flu. For the majority of us, getting an annual flu shot is an important step in preserving good health for ourselves, our families and our co-workers. It is far better to prevent getting sick in the first place and it helps prevent us from making others sick.  For our community, that means our team will be more likely to be healthy and here to care for you and your loved ones rather than being sick in bed at home!

The Vermont Department of Health emphasizes that “flu vaccination can reduce illness and prevent flu-related hospitalizations” and their web site stresses that “the best way to prevent the flue is to get a flu shot” and points out the benefit that “vaccination can reduce flu illnesses, doctors’ visits, and missed work and school.”  They recommend flu shots for individuals “age 6 months and older” as well as those “at high risk of complications from the flu, or if you are in contact with someone who is at high risk.”  Those at high risk include: “pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, all adults 50 years of age and older, healthcare workers, and people with a compromised immune system. The Health Department has also pointed out that being vaccinated yourself helps prevent you from transmitting the flu to someone who cannot be vaccinated for a medical reason (such as infants younger than 6 months and people with certain chronic conditions.

The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website is an excellent resource for more information on the flu vaccine: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/keyfacts.htm .  It explains more about “why should people get vaccinated against the flu” – including the point that “more people get vaccinated against the flu, less flu can spread through that community.”  It also helps explain how flu vaccines work and speaks to when individuals should get vaccinated.  The CDC says, “While seasonal influenza outbreaks can happen as early as October, during most seasons influenza activity peaks in January or later. Since it takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body that protect against influenza virus infection, it is best that people get vaccinated so they are protected before influenza begins spreading in their community.”

There are many opportunities to receive a flu shot here in our community.  Your Primary Care provider or your child’s Pediatrician can give this important vaccination. Please check with them in advance for availability. If you do not have a Primary Care provider or need a Pediatrician for your child, call Erin in NMC’s Community Relations office at 524-1280 and she can help you connect with a provider.  Northwestern Urgent Care also provides flu vaccines on a walk-in basis for people age 3 and up.  Their St. Albans office in Cobblestone on the NMC campus is open 8am-8pm on Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm on Saturday, and 9am-3pm on Sunday.  It is easily accessible despite the construction on campus as the loop road is open and paved.  Northwestern Urgent Care’s Georgia Office, located on Route 7, just south of Interstate 89’s exit 18, is open 8am-7pm on Monday-Friday, and 8am-5pm on Saturday.  You can go to their website and check wait times and even reserve yourself a time for your vaccination using the Clockwise app at: www.northwesternurgentcare.com  In addition, Franklin County Home Health Agency will be hosting a series of public flu shot clinics spread throughout towns in our area.  For more information, they invite you to call them at 527-7531 or visit their website at: http://www.fchha.org/flu/.

Prevention is such a valuable step in preserving good health and an annual flu shot is an easy way to help keep yourself, your family, and your co-workers in better health.  Please join me in getting a flu shot this season…yes, I have already had mine!

— Jill Berry Bowen, NMC’s Chief Executive Officer