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Beaver Dam Community Hospitals reminds community to schedule a flu shot

November 19, 2018

Sandy Abel is one of the many friendly faces patients encounter at Beaver Dam Community Hospital.

As a volunteer in the outpatient surgery and imaging departments, she interacts with hundreds of people each week. That’s why she makes sure to get a flu shot every year.

“On any given day, I welcome up to 50 people into outpatient surgery,” she said. “While being healthy is a priority, it’s even more important to know that I’m not inadvertently spreading the flu to our patients.”

As part of the check-in team, Abel welcomes patients and ushers them inside in preparation for surgery. She prioritizes the health of her patients and conscientiously gets the flu vaccine as soon as it’s available.

“It’s even more important to get immunized when you are working with people who have compromised immune systems,” said the retiree, who has been volunteering for two years. “You don’t want them to get the flu. I also have an 89-year-old mother who I wouldn’t want to see sick.”

Last year’s flu season was one of the deadliest in the past 40 years. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports an estimated 80,000 Americans died of flu and complications from the flu last winter. The overall hospitalization rates during 2017-2018 were the highest ever recorded using the Influenza Hospitalization Surveillance Network.

Experts from the CDC recommend getting the influenza vaccination in November, because seasonal flu activity often begins in fall, peaking between December and February.

“It’s particularly important for the very young, the elderly and pregnant women to get the flu vaccine, as they are much more susceptible to complications from the flu,” said Dr. Cristin Newkirk-Thompson, family medicine physician with Beaver Dam Community Hospitals. “If you are coming into contact with others at anytime, you should get a flu shot to protect yourself and protect others.”

Six years ago, Abel skipped getting the flu shot because she didn’t think she had time. While traveling for work, she ended up checking into a hospital in Florida because she was so sick. “It was a big mistake not to get the shot,” she said. “I wouldn’t wish the flu on anyone.”

Having learned her lesson years ago, Abel now advocates for the vaccine.

“It’s not just for our own health benefits,” she said. “It’s about being considerate for people around us and those we care about. The flu is dangerous, and people have been known to die from it.”

All BDCH Medical Clinics now have the flu shot available. To make an appointment, visit bdch.com/clinics and call your most convenient location. As always, people should check with their primary care providers before getting the immunization.

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