PROVIDENCE - Michael Fine, MD, director of the Rhode Island Department of Health (HEALTH), First Lady Stephanie Chafee and Providence Mayor Angel Taveras were on hand at Crossroads Rhode Island today as HEALTH immunized 77 Crossroads clients and members of the community against influenza.
"Rhode Island is a nationwide leader in immunization against influenza, but it is especially important that the neediest among us are protected," said Michael Fine, MD, director of HEALTH. "Those with reduced access to healthcare and everyday resources that can help them stay healthy are at risk for serious complications from the flu."
"We want to get the message out there that every Rhode Islander – whether or not they have health insurance – can get a flu shot," said First Lady Stephanie Chafee. "It is particularly important for those who have limited access to healthcare to get vaccinated and protect themselves and their loved ones from the health risks associated with the flu. Remember: a flu shot does every body good."
Influenza results in approximately 36,000 deaths in the United States every year. In 2011, 178 Rhode Islanders were hospitalized with the flu. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all people six months and older be vaccinated against the flu. It is particularly important for healthcare workers, the elderly, pregnant women, and for those with compromised immune systems to be vaccinated.
"There are many Providence residents who don't have health insurance and I want them to realize that there are opportunities here in the city to get a flu shot," said Mayor Taveras. "These clinics are also a helpful reminder to everyone with insurance of how important it is for all of us to get a flu shot every single year."
Crossroads Rhode Island is the largest provider of comprehensive services to the homeless and disconnected in Rhode Island. After responding to the most urgent, immediate needs, Crossroads identifies underlying issues and searches for long-term solutions for its clients.
"We are so fortunate to have the Department of Health, First Lady Stephanie Chafee and Mayor Taveras supporting this flu clinic," said Anne Nolan, president of Crossroads Rhode Island. "Individuals and families experiencing homelessness are facing enough hardships without also catching the flu. Being able to offer them flu shots at no out-of-pocket cost here at Crossroads where they're already accessing other services is so important."
For more information about the flu, flu vaccine, or where to get vaccinated, contact the Rhode Island Department of Health at 401-222-5960 / RI Relay 711 or visit www.health.ri.gov
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