PROVIDENCE – The Rhode Island Department of Health (HEALTH) today launched its annual flu immunization campaign with a kick-off event at the Rhode Island State House. Rhode Island's First Lady Stephanie Chafee, Director of HEALTH Michael Fine, MD, and U.S. Senator Jack Reed were on hand to discuss the health dangers of influenza and the importance of being immunized against this preventable disease. Flu vaccinations were offered to all who attended.
"Rhode Island is a nationwide leader in many vaccination rates, but when it comes to being immunized against influenza, we can do better," said Dr. Fine. "Last year, 400,000 Rhode Islanders were immunized against flu — a great start, but it means that 600,000 people were not protected. We hope all Rhode Islanders will see their doctor for a flu shot or visit one of the many vaccination clinics that HEALTH will be hosting across the state throughout the fall."
The flu is a serious illness that even healthy people can get. It is particularly dangerous for young children, the elderly and for those with compromised immune systems. A flu shot helps protect not only the person who gets the shot, but also those around them.
"It's especially important that healthcare workers, pregnant women, grandparents and parents be immunized," said Mrs. Chafee. "When you're busy caring for others in your life, getting a flu shot protects both you and the people you care for."
Senator Reed also announced that Rhode Island will get some help from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in covering flu vaccinations for adults. CMS will reimburse HEALTH for the cost of vaccines that it provides to healthcare providers for all adults. "Flu season is approaching and doctors encourage everyone above six months in age to get a flu shot. Getting vaccinated is a safe and smart way to protect yourself and the people around you. A quick trip to the doctor or local pharmacy is much better than being sick for a week with the flu. I am pleased to have delivered federal funding to help the Rhode Island Department of Health provide free flu vaccinations to area residents," said Reed, a member of the Appropriations Committee, who helped convince the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to extend an innovative program in Rhode Island that provides doctors with free flu vaccines to administer to seniors on traditional Medicare at no cost, a program that resulted in $335,000 reimbursement to the state during the 2011-12 flu season.
HEALTH encourages all Rhode Islanders to see their doctor, visit a local pharmacy or visit one of HEALTH's many flu vaccination clinics being offered throughout Rhode Island. Visit http://www.health.ri.gov/flu/about/vaccination/index.php to find a flu vaccination clinic near you. ###