With the Thanksgiving holiday right around the corner, I’m already taking steps to ensure my guests and I are safe this holiday season. Not only have I received my COVID-19 shots, including the booster, but I also received my annual flu vaccine. As someone who works in health care, I find it important to do all I can to help keep my friends, family and community healthy. These past years have been hard on all of us and the last thing I want to do is spread a preventable communicable disease to my loved ones, colleagues and friends.

Last year we saw low flu activity, likely due to COVID-19 prevention measures like wearing masks, social distancing and staying home. Now, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are concerned that reduced population immunity to seasonal flu can put us all at risk of increased disease this year. In addition, many of the COVID-19 prevention measures we saw last year are now being relaxed which may result in an increase in flu activity during this flu season, all while COVID-19 continues to circulate in our community.

Getting vaccinated is the most efficient and effective way to keep our community from getting sick. It helps protect our most vulnerable, reduces the prevalence of illness caused by the flu and many of the symptoms that can be confused with those of COVID-19. Not to mention, getting vaccinated can help reduce the burden on our health care system as we continue to respond to the pandemic.

For those of us who work in health care, getting a flu vaccine is not optional this year. A joint order from Bay Area Health Officers mandates that all health care workers in Alameda County receive the flu vaccine or submit sufficient documentation to obtain a medical or religious exemption. This applies to employees and contractors of Alameda Health System. The deadline to submit requests for a medical or religious exemption to Employee Health is October 25, 2021.

I, however, would like to call upon your commitment to serving the most vulnerable. Perhaps you don’t think you’ll get sick. Maybe you don’t like getting shots or you have plenty of sick leave to spare. I implore you to consider those you come in contact with every day, our vulnerable patients, our colleagues, young children, elderly family members, pregnant women or immunocompromised community members. Not everyone is as healthy as we may be and not everyone can afford to be sick. We can all do our part to prevent the spread of flu.

Fortunately, flu vaccine is readily available. Employee Health clinics are offering flu vaccine by appointment at various AHS locations. You can visit the Employee Health intranet page for details on how to access vaccine and for more information about the mandate.

The best place for patients to receive a flu vaccine is from their primary care provider, but it is also available at local pharmacies, community clinics or visit vaccines.gov for more options.

We are also hosting a community flu clinic at Alameda Hospital on October 23 from 9 a.m. to noon. Everyone is welcome to attend.

Let’s all do our part to prevent the spread of disease and keep our communities healthy and thank you for all you do to support our mission of Caring, Healing Teaching and Serving All.

Be well,