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CharterCARE CEO joins with state leaders to encourage Rhode Islanders to get flu vaccination

On October 5, CharterCARE Health Partners CEO John Holiver joined with other state leaders at the West Warwick Senior and Community Center for the annual kickoff of Rhode Island's flu vaccination campaign. Coming off the most severe flu season that Rhode Island has seen in almost a decade, public health and healthcare leaders launched the state’s annual flu vaccination campaign today reminders about how critical flu shots are for everyone six months of age and older.

“As CEO of CharterCARE and board chairman of the Hospital Association of Rhode Island, I can tell you that this issue is one that hospitals in Rhode Island take seriously. It is well known that vaccination is your best protection against the flu,” said Holiver. “Flu clinics – like the one today and the more than 30 that CharterCARE is conducting over the next couple months – are a great way to help protect vulnerable Rhode Islanders. I encourage everyone to seek out a clinic or visit a flu vaccine provider to make themselves, their family, and their co-workers safer during this flu season.”

Joining Holiver at the event were Jeanne LaChance, President/CEO of Thundermist Health Center; James E. Fanale, MD, President and CEO of Care New England; Latha Sivaprasad, MD, Senior VP and Chief Medical Officer for Rhode Island Hospital and Hasbro Children’s Hospital; and Kimberly O’Connell, VP and Chief Strategy Officer for South County Health.
 
“Thundermist Health Center is proud to partner with the Rhode Island Department of Health and West Warwick Health Equity Zone to kick off flu vaccinations in Rhode Island,” said Jeanne LaChance, president/CEO of Thundermist Health Center. “We encourage everyone, especially those most at risk, to get vaccinated right away.”

Approximately 480,000 Rhode Islanders were vaccinated last year. Rhode Island had the highest flu vaccination rate among children in the nation last year (76%). However, RIDOH is working to increase Rhode Island’s vaccination rate for the 2018-2019 flu season. A list of evening flu clinics that are located at schools and are open to the entire community is available at www.health.ri.gov/flu. Flu shots are also available at other community clinics, doctors’ offices, and pharmacies.

“A flu shot is the single best way to protect yourself and the ones you love against the flu. When you get a flu shot you are not only protecting yourself, you are also protecting the people in your life by limiting the spread of the flu. This is especially important if you spend time with younger children or the elderly, who are more susceptible to the effects of the flu,” said Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, the Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health. “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. Earlier this week, public flu clinics opened at schools throughout the state and clinics will be happening in different cities and towns for the next two months. Flu shots are safe, effective, and easier to get than ever before.”
 
Last year, the flu sent 1,390 Rhode Islanders to the hospital and resulted in 60 deaths (compared to 1,216 hospitalizations and 33 deaths the previous year). Rhode Island saw more flu during the 2017-2018 flu season than during any flu season since the 2009-2010 season, when the state experienced the H1N1 flu pandemic.
 
Although doctors recommend flu shots for everyone six months of age and older, flu shots are especially important for certain people. They include 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.