There's a longstanding tradition at my house every Thanksgiving:
I require that every family member who shows up for turkey has to have gotten the flu vaccine.
Hello, I'm Dr. William Walker, Director of Contra Costa Health Services and County Health Officer. I'm sharing this Thanksgiving Day tradition because, as a health care worker, I feel it's important to practice what I preach.
Every year, patients ask me if I have received my flu shot. And, every year, I proudly say I have. But I am sorry to say many of my fellow workers don't do the same.
Only half of all health care workers in California hospitals got a flu vaccine last year. Our numbers aren't much better. Isn't it hypocritical to not do something we know is proven to stop the spread of disease? Especially when we know the vaccine is safe and won't cause illness.
Maybe you think the flu is no big deal or that you won't get it. Think of it as five minutes versus five days. It takes five minutes to get vaccinated. In those five minutes you are not only protecting yourself, you are protecting the people we serve. Skip it and you risk being sick for five days or more.
As a health care worker, you know how contagious the flu is and how quickly it can interfere with your life and work. You also know that you can spread the virus before showing symptoms. We owe it to our patients—who often are the most vulnerable to serious complications—to do our part in keeping them healthy.
There has been talk about the need for hospitals to create mandatory flu vaccination programs for all health workers- except for those with medical or religious reasons.
Though we haven't gone that route, I strongly urge you to get vaccinated.
Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself, your family, patients and co-workers from the flu. Do you really have time to be sick?
Remember: five minutes is all it takes to help stop the spread of flu.
Thanks for listening.