Will A Flu Shot Increase My Chances of Staying Healthy?

Yes!  “The best way to prevent the flu is to get a flu shot.”  That’s the clear message from the Vermont Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  It is something I believe in and that NMC takes very seriously.  Each year, we have a strong initiative to ensure as close to 100% of NMC’s staff as possible are vaccinated against the flu.  This helps protect our patients and our employees’ families from the flu.  It also helps ensure we are able to be here caring for patients and not stuck at home recovering from the flu ourselves! 

I am writing to urge each of you to join us and get your flu shot this year — and “now” is the time!  It can take about two weeks after getting the flu shot for it to become fully effective.  That means now is the perfect time to get a flu shot, as the best way to be healthier and prevent the spread of illness is to avoid getting sick in the first place! 

Excellent information on the flu and flu shots is available at the Vermont Department of Health (VDH) website at http://healthvermont.gov/prevent/flu/or you can call the St. Albans District Office at (802) 524-7970 for more information on the flu and local flu shot clinics.  I would like to share some of that important information with you. 

The VDH website says, “Influenza, commonly called the flu or seasonal flu, is caused by viruses that infect the nose, throat and lungs. The flu usually spreads through the air from person to person when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks. Unlike the common cold, the flu can cause serious illness and can be life-threatening. Each year over 36,000 people in the U.S. die from complications of the flu.”  The side effects of the flu are typically mild and if they do occur, usually last only one or two days.

The general recommendation is that everyone over the age of 6 months should get a flu shot.  People at high risk of having serious flu-related complications are urged to get a flu shot.  According to VDH materials, this includes: all adults 50 years of age and older; pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers; residents of nursing homes and other long term care facilities; healthcare workers; travelers; people of any age with certain chronic medical conditions, immunosuppression or compromised respiratory function; and  people at high risk for severe complications from influenza.  It is always good to talk to your Primary Care provider about medical questions.  In regards to the flu shot, this is particularly important if you have an allergy to chicken eggs or if you have ever had Guillain-Barre syndrome (a severe paralytic illness). 

We are fortunate to have strong access to flu shots in our community.  Your Primary Care provider can give you the flu shot and that ensures record of your inoculation is in your health record.  Flu shots are also available at Northwestern Urgent Care’s locations in the Cobblestone Building on NMC’s campus in St. Albans and on Route 7 in Georgia.  Information on their hours (which include weekends and evenings with no appointment needed) can be found at www.northwesternurgentcare.com  or by calling (802) 524-8911.  Franklin County Home Health Agency (FCHHA) offers a series of flu shot clinics throughout Franklin County which start in October.  They have a very informative website at http://www.fchha.org/flu-clinics-scheduled/ which lists their clinics, and information is also available by calling them at (802) 527-7531. 

Flu shots make a real difference in your health and your healthcare costs.  Research cited on the FCHHA website says that “Flu vaccination was associated with a 71% reduction in flu-related hospitalizations among adults of all ages.”  That is significant.  Not getting the flu means fewer missed days from work, more money in your pocket, and better quality of life.  Prevention truly is the key to a healthier future.  Please join me in getting a flu shot!

— Jill Berry Bowen, NMC’s Chief Executive Officer