Rhode Island Kicks Off Flu Vaccination Campaign Published on Wednesday, October 13, 2021 All Eligible Rhode Islanders Urged to Get Flu Shots Governor Dan McKee kicked off Rhode Island’s annual flu vaccination campaign today by urging all eligible Rhode Islanders to get vaccinated to keep themselves and their loved ones as healthy and safe as possible this flu season. Lieutenant Governor Matos was vaccinated at the event, which was held at Anthony’s Pharmacy in Providence. Governor McKee and Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, were vaccinated earlier in the flu season. “I got my flu shot a few weeks back. It was quick, painless, and I didn’t have any side effects,” said Governor Dan McKee. “I encourage all Rhode Islanders to get their flu shot and their COVID-19 vaccine. Both shots are important to building a healthy, resilient Rhode Island.” People can get flu shots and COVID-19 shots during the same visit to a pharmacy or other site where both vaccines are available. “Getting your flu shot is one of the best ways to avoid getting sick during flu season,” said Lieutenant Governor Matos. “I get mine every year. With school-aged children and working in a public building, it’s important to me that I do everything I can to keep myself, my family, and my coworkers as healthy as can be. Flu season is approaching, so I hope you will get yours today – like me.” Everyone six months of age and older should get a flu shot every year. Vaccination is especially important for certain people, including: Pregnant women People 65 and older Younger children People with chronic medical conditions, such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and asthma Healthcare workers, and People who live with or care for those at high risk of flu-related complications There are hundreds of places throughout Rhode Island to get vaccinated, including pharmacies and the offices of many primary care providers. Additionally, school-located flu vaccination clinics are running throughout Rhode Island. These clinics are open to students and staff, and many of them function as community clinics as well. (For more information health.ri.gov/flu.) “Flu shots are fast, easy, and free. You don’t need health insurance to get your flu shot, and they are available in every community in Rhode Island,” said Dr. Alexander-Scott. “The best way to protect yourself and your loved ones this flu season is to get your flu shot.” The flu results in hospitalizations and fatalities every year in Rhode Island. During the 2019-2020 flu season in Rhode Island, there were 950 hospitalizations due to the flu and 20 flu-associated deaths. (The 2020-2021 flu season was atypical in Rhode Island, given the community mitigation measures in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19.) Rhode Island has some of the highest flu vaccination rates in the nation. In the 2019-2020 flu season, 57% of Rhode Islanders age 18 or older got the flu shot, and 61% of Rhode Islanders six months or older got the flu shot. This year's flu vaccine protects against two influenza A strains (including the H1N1 strain) and two influenza B strains, based on what experts believe will be circulating. For adults age 65 or older, two enhanced flu vaccines will be available. These enhanced vaccines help older adults get a higher immune response from their body and gives them better protection from the flu and flu-related illnesses. After getting a flu shot, a person might feel achy or have a low-grade fever. This is a sign that the person’s body is building an immune response to the flu virus. This response is much milder than the average case of the flu. Other ways to stay healthy this flu season Cough or sneeze into your elbow. Flu virus is spread to other people when you cough or sneeze into your hands and then touch other things. Clean and sanitize places that are touched regularly, such as tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks. Wash your hands frequently with warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way. Get plenty of sleep, exercise, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat healthy food. Additional resources: List of vaccination clinics and general information about the flu: https://www.health.ri.gov/flu (Evening school clinics are open to the entire community. Registration for school clinics is strongly encouraged but walk-ins are welcome.) Information about the flu in Spanish: http://health.ri.gov/gripe People with additional questions can call RIDOH's Health Information Line at 401-222-5960 / RI Relay 711.