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all healthcare workers should get the flu vaccine

The video below was made during an event a couple of weeks ago, where all of Carilion Clinic's senior executives were inoculated with this year's flu vaccine. Everyone from Nancy Agee, our CEO, to Wayne Gandee, our Chief Medical Officer, and all of our vice presidents and department chairs lined up following a meeting in the board room at Roanoke Memorial Hospital, rolled up their sleeves, and got their shots.

No one fainted or screamed.

Now, two weeks later, all of us are protected from this year's strains:

  • an A/California/7/2009 (H1N1)-like virus;
  • an A/Perth/16/2009 (H3N2)-like virus; and
  • a B/Brisbane/60/2008-like virus.

My shot was nearly painless, I had no fever, no redness and no muscle aches. I had no headache. I slept just as well that night as I do any other night that I am not on call.

I feel great.

I have gotten a flu shot every year since 1986. I had influenza ONCE. I hope to never get it again. It was by far the worst 10 days of my adult life.

As you know, I provide medical care for hospitalized children. I and my colleagues are therefore exposed to patients who cannot cover their noses and mouths, who almost always have snot dripping from somewhere, and who might cough in our faces at any time. These are also the patients who are at high risk should they catch something from us.

It is my ethical stance that all healthcare providers should get the vaccines they recommend for their patients. I hear many tales from families about walking into a doctor's office for a visit, being urged by the front office staff or the nurse to get their flu shot, but then finding out that most of the staff "don't believe in it" for themselves.

Folks, let me tell you, there is no "belief" involved. If you are a healthcare provider, and you transmit influenza to a susceptible patient who is then hospitalized, you will have not kept your promise to all of our patients, to work for their good.  I certainly urge EVERYONE over 6 months of age to obtain a flu shot, but especially our health care workers.

Folks most at risk for complications of the flu are those under 5 or over 50 years of age, and pregnant women. There is a much higher risk of premature births in women who contract the actual flu virus during pregnancy. This was talked about a lot when we were talking about the H1N1 pandemic, but is also true for other flu strains.

P.S. You can't "catch" anything from this shot. There are no live viruses in the vaccine. You will NOT get the flu. I repeat, YOU WILL NOT GET THE FLU from the shot.

[flv:http://www.carilionclinic.org/blogs/ackerman/files/2011/10/flu.flv 500 319] See some of the prior posts on flu vaccine for more information.

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