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For Release:
November 01, 2010

Poonam Alaigh, MD, MSHCPM, FACP
Commissioner

For Further Information Contact:
Office of Communications
609-984-7160


 
Commissioner of Health and Senior Services Urges All Health Care Professionals to Get Vaccinated Against the Flu


 

 

(Trenton, November 1, 2010)  Dr. Poonam Alaigh, Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services today stressed the need for all health care workers to get vaccinated against the flu to protect themselves, their patients and the public.

 

“While my Department’s main focus is to educate the public on the benefits of getting vaccinated, we need to do more to ensure this message fully penetrates the ranks of health care professionals who we rely on to provide medical care,” said Commissioner Alaigh.  “If health care professionals get sick from the flu, it not only puts their patients, co-workers and families at risk, it creates a stress on the workplace. Therefore, I am encouraging all health care professionals to get vaccinated as soon as possible.”

 

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

 

  • Last winter, 37 percent of health care workers received an H1N1 shot and 62 percent received a seasonal flu shot.  64 percent received either an H1N1 shot or a seasonal flu shot. While this represents a higher coverage rate than in any previous season, only 35 percent reported receiving both vaccines.

 

  • Seasonal vaccination coverage was highest (71.7%) in hospital settings and among health care professionals who work in intensive-care, burn, or obstetric units, or around seriously ill patients (70.2%). However, coverage was lower (54%) in settings such as long-term care facilities, where medically fragile patients could be at increased risk if exposed to influenza viruses.

 

“CentraState created a Flu Vaccination Task Force in 2006 that set a goal to reach a 60 percent vaccination rate for employees in five years. At the time, only one out of three employees was getting a flu shot,” said John Gribbin, President and CEO, CentraState Healthcare System.  “Through communication, education, incentive programs and outreach to employees, we surpassed our goal last year, well ahead of schedule, and doubled our numbers. Two out of every three employees received their flu shots. We will continue to set the bar higher and get more employees vaccinated.”

 

“About 72 percent of hospital workers received the flu vaccine last year – about double the rate for other adults – but there’s still room for improvement. We’re urging healthcare workers across the state to roll up their sleeves and get a flu shot – for their own health and the health of their patients and co-workers, said Betsy Ryan, President and CEO of the New Jersey Hospital Association.

 

The Department of Health and Senior Services recommends taking the following steps to help prevent the spread of the flu:

 

  • Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes.
  • Stay home if you are sick.

 

For information about seasonal flu, visit the DHSS website at www.nj.gov/health/flu.

Materials are available for the general public and for healthcare workers on preventing the spread of flu, respiratory hygiene and hand washing.  Residents interested in getting an influenza vaccination can click on the “Find a Flu Shot” button on the DHSS Flu web page.

 

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