The Rhode Island Department of Health (HEALTH) launched its annual flu vaccination campaign with a kick-off event today at the Rhode Island State House.
The dangers of the flu and the importance of being vaccinated were discussed by Director of Health Michael Fine, M.D.; First Lady Stephanie Chafee; Ed Cooley, Head Coach of the Providence College men's basketball team; and Pablo Rodriguez, M.D. Dr. Rodriguez is the Chairman of the Women & Infants Health Care Alliance, the Chairman of Latino Public Radio, and the President and CEO of Women's Care.
"A flu shot is your best protection against the flu. When you get a flu shot, you also help keep your family members, neighbors, co-workers, and friends healthy by preventing the spread of the flu," said Dr. Fine. "Everyone older than six months of age should get a flu shot every year. Even if you don't have health insurance or can't afford a flu shot, there are clinics in Rhode Island where you can be vaccinated without having to pay. Last year, more than 500,000 Rhode Islanders were vaccinated against flu. That's a great start, but it means we're only halfway there!"
Dr. Fine, First Lady Chafee, Coach Cooley, and Dr. Rodriguez were all vaccinated at the event. The event was also attended by Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth Roberts.
"I get vaccinated every year and I make sure that my players get vaccinated too. The last thing that we want to do is get sick," Coach Cooley said. "Everyone should get in the habit of getting a flu shot every year."
The flu is a serious illness that can even make healthy people very sick. Last year, the flu sent 639 Rhode Islanders to the hospital and resulted in 32 deaths.
Although doctors recommend flu shots for everyone older than six months of age every year, flu shots are particularly important for pregnant women, senior citizens, healthcare workers, and people with chronic medical conditions. Examples of chronic medical conditions include diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and asthma.
All Rhode Islanders should see their doctors to be vaccinated against the flu. Other places where people can be vaccinated include pharmacies, public clinics, and school clinics. (Many school clinics are open to the entire community.)
For more information about flu vaccine or to find out where to get vaccinated, call 401-222-5960 / RI Relay 711.