3 reasons you need the flu vaccine

We're heading into the season when cases of the flu increase and eventually impact EMS systems across the U.S.

Editor’s Note:

Editor's note: A controversial new mandate will force thousands of Calif. healthcare workers to get flu shots this fall — or wear a mask at work the entire influenza season.

We're heading into the season when cases of the flu increase and eventually impact EMS systems across the U.S.

It's crucial that EMS providers be protected from contracting the illness, and here's why: 

1. Influenza is really not trivial. Estimates range from 23,000 to 41,000 deaths annually associated with the flu, with the majority occurring in the younger and older segments of the population. Part of the rate of incidence is the flu's high transmission rate; it's relatively easy to spread the virus from one person to the next. Vaccination helps to limit the chain of transmission. 

2. As healthcare providers, we really need to be highly protected so that we can interact with our patients and minimize the flu's impact on us. We have to be available when the community needs emergency response and transportation.

3. While this report does not single out EMS providers, it is nevertheless disturbing that one in three healthcare providers is not vaccinated. This sobering statistic will contribute to the burden of care associated with influenza.

I'm getting my shot next week, and I hope you consider getting one as well. Not only is it good for me personally; it's also good for my family, friends and patients. That should count for something.

About the author

Art Hsieh, MA, NRP teaches in Northern California at the Public Safety Training Center, Santa Rosa Junior College in the Emergency Care Program. An EMS provider since 1982, Art has served as a line medic, supervisor and chief officer in the private, third service and fire-based EMS. He has directed both primary and EMS continuing education programs. Art is a textbook writer, author of "EMT Exam for Dummies," has presented at conferences nationwide and continues to provide direct patient care regularly. Art is a member of the EMS1 Editorial Advisory Board. Contact Art at Art.Hsieh@ems1.com and connect with him on Facebook or Twitter.

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