In 2018, the flu sent 1,032 Rhode Islanders to the hospital and resulted in 39 deaths. The Rhode Island Department of Health wants residents to know the dangers and get their annual flu vaccination to help protect themselves.
The department launched Rhode Island’s annual flu immunization campaign Thursday in collaboration with community partners across the state. Dr. Ailis Clyne, medical director for the department’s Division of Community Health and Equity, discussed the dangers of the flu and the importance of flu shots for everyone older than six months of age.
“Year in and year out, a flu shot is the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones against the flu. Limiting the spread of the flu by getting a flu shot is especially important if you spend time with younger children or the elderly,” Clyne said.
Although doctors recommend flu shots for everyone over six months old, flu shots are especially important for the elderly, healthcare workers, younger children, pregnant women, and people with chronic medical conditions. Examples of chronic medical conditions include diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and asthma.
During the 2018-2019 flu season. Rhode Island had the highest vaccination coverage rate in the nation among adults at 56.3% in the nation, and the second highest coverage rate among children at 78%.
“Why do healthcare providers recommend that almost everyone should get a flu shot every year? Because every year, up to 80,000 people In the United States die of complications of influenza,” said Dr. Sarah Fessler, 2019 Rhode Island Childhood Immunization Champion. “Influenza is a preventable disease, and your best protection is the flu shot.”
A list of evening flu clinics and other flu information is available at health.ri.gov/flu. Flu shots are also available at other community clinics, doctors’ offices, and pharmacies.
“Flu shots are safe, effective, and easy to get in cities and towns across Rhode Island. Even if you don’t have health insurance or can’t afford a flu shot, there are places in Rhode Island where you can get vaccinated for free, like the public flu clinics that opened this week at schools across the state,” Clyne said.
— Jason Vallee