Health officials hope at least 90% of Rhode Islanders will get their flu shot this year


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Flu season is upon us, and the Rhode Island Department of Health is urging everyone to get vaccinated.

The Health Department launched a campaign Tuesday in which they hope at least 90% of Rhode Islanders will get their flu shot this year.

“While a flu vaccination rate of 90% is an ambitious goal, flu vaccination will be more important than ever this year,” Director of Health Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott said. “The simple choice to get a flu shot and make sure that your loved ones get their flu shots is a powerful step to help keep all of Rhode Island healthy and safe.”

Rhode Island is usually one of the best vaccinated states in the country, according to the Health Department. During the 2018-2019 season, 60% of Rhode Islanders got their flu shot.

The Health Department said getting vaccinated against the flu this year is also a small way residents can prevent the state’s healthcare system from becoming overburdened with both flu and COVID-19 patients.

“With the flu vaccine, we have the ability to give ourselves and our family members an extra layer of protection,” Alexander-Scott added. “Don’t let this be the year you say, ‘I never get the flu shot, I don’t need to get it.'”

Last flu season, the Health Department said Rhode Island saw 950 hospitalizations and 20 flu-related deaths.

“With the current COVID-19 pandemic, getting a flu vaccine is more important than ever this year – to protect ourselves, our families and our communities,” Executive Office of Health & Human Services Secretary Womazetta Jones said.

Rhode Island has an additional 150,000 doses of the flu vaccine than in years past and is prepared to purchase more if needed.

This year’s vaccine protects against two influenza A strains and two influenza B strains, the Health Department said. Two enhanced vaccines will also be available for seniors, which can create a stronger immune response to the virus.

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