The Centers for Disease Control announced yesterday that the flu season has already started with confirmed cases being reported in the South. This is the earliest start to the flu season in almost a decade. The last time the flu season started early it claimed the lives of over 48,000 Americans, and it just so happens that this same deadly strain of flu is what is being reported as this year's strain. On average, though, half as many Americans die from the flu each year. The good news is that the current flu shot seems to be an excellent match with this unique virus strain.
At WMHS, this the first time that we are requiring flu shots of all of our employees and medical staff. Declinations can be given for health and religious reasons. As of today, over 86% of our employees and 85% of our physicians and advanced practice professionals have received their flu shots. The most vulnerable population for contracting the flu is the elderly; with our new approach to treating patients in the most appropriate location while reducing admissions and readmissions to the hospital, the majority of patients who are now hospitalized are both elderly and severely compromised with a host of chronic conditions. I can't think of a better reason for our staff to get the flu shot. Requiring flu shots of our staff is consistent with 41 of 46 hospitals in Maryland; it's consistent with our mission (Superior Care for All We Serve) and core values of Innovation, Compassion, Respect, and Excellence. Most importantly, we owe it to our community, our patients, our families and each other.