The Rhode Island Department of Health (HEALTH) launched its annual flu immunization campaign with a kick-off event today at the Rhode Island State House.
The dangers of the flu and importance of being vaccinated were discussed by Director of Health Michael Fine, MD, First Lady Stephanie Chafee, and Pablo Rodriguez, MD. Dr. Rodriguez is the Chairman of the Women & Infants Health Care Alliance, the Chairman of Latino Public Radio, and the President and CEO at Women's Care.
"If there is one thing we learned last year, it is that flu seasons can be unpredictable. The flu hit us early and it hit us hard. Flu shots are the best way to keep yourself safe and to protect those around you," said Dr. Fine.
"Last year, almost 500,000 Rhode Islanders were immunized against flu. That's a great start, but it means we're only halfway there!"
Doctors recommend flu vaccination for everyone older than six months of age. The flu is a serious illness that can even make healthy people very sick. Last year in Rhode Island, the flu sent 831 people to the hospital. In a very bad season the flu can cause as many as 160 deaths in Rhode Island.
Flu vaccinations protect both the people who are vaccinated and the people around them by preventing the spread of the virus. Flu vaccination is particularly important for pregnant women, senior citizens, healthcare workers, and people with chronic medical conditions. Examples of chronic medical conditions include diabetes, cancer, and asthma.
All Rhode Islanders are urged to see their doctors to be vaccinated against the flu. Children can also be vaccinated at public clinics and at school-based clinics. Adults can also be vaccinated at pharmacies, public clinics, and some school-based clinics.
"It's especially important that healthcare workers, 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."
Dr. Rodriguez highlighted the importance of vaccination for pregnant women.
The event on Tuesday was broadcast live on Latino Public Radio.
At several points throughout the event Dr. Rodriguez addressed listeners in Spanish, reminding them about the importance of vaccination and addressing some common misconceptions about flu vaccine. For more information about flu vaccine or to find out where to get vaccinated, call 401-222-5960 / RI Relay 711.