October 11, 2005

Contact: Angela Heisel, 272-3651

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Could health care workers be the cause of the next flu pandemic? That is what Judy V. Schmidt, RN, MSN , MA , Ed, public health educator with the Centers for Disease control said could happen if health care workers do not get vaccinated against the flu.

Last year, only 40 percent of health care workers got their flu immunizations. "Health care workers need to get their flu shots because they have a duty to protect their patients, their families and the people around them," Schmidt said. "Just because someone is not feeling sick does not mean they are not spreading the flu."

Since health care workers and other service providers will be more likely to be exposed to the flu than the public, it is imperative that they receive the vaccination.

Schmidt stresses that to prepare for influenza outbreaks, hospitals and clinics should offer vaccinations to unvaccinated patients before they are discharged, institute surveillance for influenza-like illness among healthcare personnel and patients, and ensure that all personnel receive annual influenza vaccination.

"The Flu and You: Influenza and Healthcare Worker Vaccines" presented by Schmidt was sponsored by the New Mexico Immunization Coalition. For more information about the immunization coalition, contact Anna Pentler, (505) 272-5796 orannalevy@unm.edu.

UNM Hospital will be having its flu shot kick-off October 12, 2005 at 10 a.m. to encourage its employees to get their shots.

The New Mexico Immunization Coalition is a collaboration between the Office of the First Lady of New Mexico, the New Mexico Department of Health and the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center to boost the state's immunization rate.