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Phoebe kicks off flu shot drive

A group of Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital employees wait in line Monday to receive their flu shots in the hospital’s cafeteria. The hospital is phasing in a requirement for all of its employees to participate in its flu vaccine campaigns.

A group of Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital employees wait in line Monday to receive their flu shots in the hospital’s cafeteria. The hospital is phasing in a requirement for all of its employees to participate in its flu vaccine campaigns.

ALBANY — Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital has kicked off its annual flu shot campaign as part of an effort officials hope ultimately will result in the entire staff receiving vaccinations.

Dr. Carlos Franco, an infectious disease specialist at Phoebe, was on hand at the official kick-off to explain the role of a health care worker when it comes to the prevention of flu.

“The only reason not to take the vaccine is of you have some sort of allergy to it,” he said.

“Our goal is to get all the hospital staff vaccinated. Everyone should be vaccinated.”

Officials are dubbing the effort “2011 Flu Shot Challenge.” Currently, the hospital is working to phase in a requirement over a three-year period it hopes will result in all the staff being vaccinated unless they have a legitimate reason not to.

“It is a trend on the hospital level,” Franco said. “Because of the flu vaccine, you can protect patients.

“It’s an infection control.”

There were two cases of the flu reported at the hospital last week, Franco said.

“It’s still early, but it will be an active flu season,” he said.

To that effect, employees are being required this year to either get a shot or sign a declination. Next year, those in regular contact with patients will have to be inoculated unless they have a legitimate reason not to, such as medical or religious.

The year after that, all of Phoebe’s employees will be required to get the vaccine unless they have a legitimate reason not to.

“This year, by making it 100 percent participation, my guess is that we’ll have 85 to 90 percent actually get the shot (with the others signing the declination),” said Dr. Doug Patten, senior vice president of medical affairs at Phoebe. “We have people here that want to do the right thing and understand the value of it.”

Last year was the highest participation rate Phoebe has had, with 82 percent of the staff participating and 64 percent getting the shot.

“As health care providers, we have an obligation to set the tone, and this is one of the most effective preventative measures we can institute,” Patten said.