ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - Phoebe is streamlining its annual employee flu vaccination program with a goal of administering shots to every member of the “Phoebe family” in just 10 days, according to the hospital system.
Phoebe said the condensed timeline will prepare the system to quickly vaccinate employees and the public for COVID-19 when a vaccine for the novel coronavirus is available.
“Typically, we administer flu shots to our 5,000 plus Phoebe family members over a period of about two months. This year, we set an aggressive timeline to stretch our system and identify and overcome any barriers we may face when we are able to roll out COVID-19 vaccinations. It will be vital for us to be able to vaccinate large numbers of people for COVID-19 quickly, and we want to be ready,” said Scott Steiner, Phoebe Putney Health System president and CEO.
With the potential for a flu outbreak to coincide with a surge in COVID-19 cases this fall or winter, the hospital system said it’s more important than ever for people to get vaccinated against influenza.
“We want to avoid the possible scenario of a large influx of flu patients in addition to patients admitted with COVID-19. Flu shots are now available to the public at Phoebe clinics and other locations throughout our community," said Dr. Steven Kitchen, Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital chief medical officer. "The flu vaccine is safe and offers the best protection against influenza, and we encourage everyone in southwest Georgia over six months of age to get vaccinated as soon as possible to help us avoid an active flu season.”
Phoebe Physicians will continue to host flu shot clinics at various primary care locations throughout the region through Oct. 11 and have vaccinated more than 260 people. The public can get a flu vaccine at any Phoebe Physicians primary care clinic. Locations can be found here
“We’ve had outstanding compliance and cooperation. Annual flu shots are mandatory for our team members, and they understand it’s important for them to go ahead and get vaccinated to protect themselves, as well as our patients and our community,” Steiner said.
Kitchen said the flu shot can take a couple of weeks to be fully effective.
“So the sooner you get vaccinated, the better chance you have of avoiding the virus this flu season,” he added. “For COVID-19, we know several potential vaccines are in the final stages of human trials. We are optimistic those studies will produce a safe and effective vaccine, and we look forward to the day when the Food and Drug Administration approves a vaccine that will help us win our battle against COVID-19.”
Phoebe has applied with the Georgia Department of Public Health Immunization Program to serve as a COVID-19 Pandemic Mass Vaccination Site. With that designation, the state would provide a significant number of vaccines, and Phoebe would assist in administering them to eligible populations in the region, according to the hospital system.