The case for urging co-workers to get flu shots

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Good afternoon,

Dr. Ijaz Anwar, a primary care physician with ChristianaCare Smyrna Family Practice, has a message for the business community – do everything possible to convince staff to get flu shots.

Anwar and public health officials see mid-November as a critical time to get the vaccine since it will allow Delawareans to resist the virus throughout the late fall and winter.

The ChristianaCare physician specializing in geriatric medicine said one of the best arguments for an employer push for vaccinations is work time lost to flu. One estimate from 2018 indicates lost time, and other costs totaled $21 billion.

Anwar acknowledges that resistance to getting flu shots remains a challenge. The biggest myth is that the vaccine actually triggers influenza.

This can happen when people mistake a common cold or another virus for the flu. In other cases, those vaccinated have a strong reaction to the vaccine. It is also true that flu strains change, and some yearly vaccines are less effective than others.

The urgency to get more people to get Covid-19 has ramped up the need for flu vaccinations.

Flu complications often lead to strains on hospitals in the winter.There is also the scary possibility that catching the flu can weaken one’s immune system and increase the chances of getting Covid-19. This is especially true with older patients, Anwar notes.

The current surge in Covid-19 cases is worrisome, with Anwar and other physicians urging Delawarean to wear face coverings, practice social distancing and wash hands frequently. Those practices will also reduce the chances of flu infections.

While Delaware has adequate capacity to handle the 100-plus Covid-19 cases in hospitals, the combination of flu and Covid cases could the health care system into the danger zone.

One encouraging development is the possibility that flu cases could go down sharply. That was the Southern Hemisphere case as masks, social distancing, and good hygiene appeared to contribute to a sharp reduction in flu cases.

Whether that can happen in the more mask-adverse U.S. remains to be seen. Enforcement is strict. TheAustralian state of Victoria fines individuals $200 or more for going without a mask in public. Victoria saw an uptick in cases but has not reported a positive test in recent days. Delaware is now averaging more than 300 daily cases.

Flu vaccinations are offered at many pharmacies in Delaware as well as at doctors’ offices. Pop up vaccinations have also been held around the state.

In recent years, ChristianaCare, the state’s largest private employer, has achieved a 90 percent-plus vaccination rate through a well-publicized promotional effort in October. Thanks to Covid-19, the effort was less visible this year- Doug Rainey, chief content officer.

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