On Wednesday, September 10, 300 public and private health care providers from across Oregon gathered in Portland on a beautiful late summer day to talk about one thing: influenza. It’s hard to believe that flu season is right around the corner, but the Public Health Division has been thinking about the flu for months and organizing the thirteenth Oregon Flu Summit to help us prepare.
The only thing predictable about the flu is that it’s unpredictable. The people most adversely affected are children and the elderly, but even healthy people can get very sick from the flu. Last year in the U.S., nearly 60 percent of flu-related hospitalizations reported to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) were people 18 to 64 years of age; sadly, 105 children died from flu-related illnesses.
But preventing the spread of flu is easy. At the flu summit, medical professionals and public health officials talked about epidemiological data and best practices. A CDC flu expert offered a global and historical view of influenza. Occupational health specialists from OHSU shared how they raised their percentage of employee flu shots to over 90 percent last season, which went a long way in protecting the health of their patients and clients.
The flu vaccine isn’t perfect, but it’s our best defense against the disease. PEBB will hold flu shot clinics in our state office buildings starting in just a few weeks. The more people get vaccinated, the healthier we will all be. Please remember to get your flu shot. It’s a safe and effective way to keep you, your family and our entire community healthy.