State looks to increase flu vaccination rate - ABC6 - Providence, RI and New Bedford, MA News, Weather

State looks to increase flu vaccination rate

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By: Melissa Toupin

Twitter: @MelissaToupin

Rhode Island Health officials kicked off the annual flu vaccination campaign at the State House Tuesday. Stephanie Chafee, Rhode Island's First Lady, and a registered nurse, was on hand to give the first flu shots. Department of Health intern, Chenelle Chin, rolled up here sleeve hoping to avoid getting the bug this winter.

"I've known folks who have gotten it, and I believe it's not pleasant, so I don't want to have to experience it myself to know that," said Chin.

Last year 830 Rhode Islanders came down with the flu. During the event Chafee recalled her own experience with the aches and pains that come along with virus which she got back in college.

"I was six days in bed with fever," said Chafee. "I really did think I was on deaths door."

Usually the vaccine covers 3 strains of the flu virus, but this year early doses will cover 4. That's according to ABC's chief health and medical editor Dr. Richard Besser. Bessesr says people will have to move fast if they want to get one of the four strain shots. They are only making about 30 million of them.

One of the biggest misconceptions about getting the flu shot is that you'll actually get the flu. Dr. Michael Fine, Rhode Island's Health Director, says some people may experience achiness or even a slight fever, but that means the vaccine is working.

"That's your immune system being turned on, and starting to work and making the antibodies you need to fight off the flu," said Fine.

This year officials are trying to increase the state vaccination rate from 500,000 to 800,000 people. They are especially pushing for at risk populations including school aged children, the elderly, and those with chronic health issues to get the shot or nasal spray.

The best time to get the flu vaccine is between now and the end of the year.

(C) WLNE–TV 2013

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