Among many other community outreach activities this fall, WakeMed provided flu vaccines to homeless and under-served individuals at area shelters as part of the ongoing Homeless Grand Round Lecture Series. Through this series, WakeMed providers offer lectures in local shelters, providing health education to hundreds of our community’s homeless residents.
In the evolving world of population health, there is nothing as important as working with high risk, vulnerable populations to empower them to improve their health, especially in the context of what might be overwhelming social barriers, explains Brian Klausner, MD, who helped start the series three years ago.
As part of the winter health lecture, participants were also offered flu vaccines free of charge – and around 150 individuals took advantage of the opportunity. Providing the flu vaccines is a team effort involving Corporate & Community Health as well as WakeMed employees who volunteer their time to provide the vaccinations.
This year, for the first time, WakeMed was also able to offer flu vaccines for children, thanks to support and help from WakeMed Physician Practices – Pediatrics staff, under the leadership of Luan Cox.
The Importance of the Flu Vaccine in Raleigh’s Under-Served Populations
Offering the flu vaccines is especially important because individuals who are homeless or living in shelters are at higher risk of contracting the flu and seven times more likely to die from the illness than individuals who are not homeless.
This population is also more likely to seek care in the emergency department. Based on historic data around influenza in homeless populations, by vaccinating 150 people, the program likely helped avoid at least 17 cases of flu – thereby avoiding numerous ED visits, hospitalizations and possibly saving at least one life.
This program is a great example of WakeMed departments coming together and doing what’s best for the community we serve, commented Linda Barrett, director (Corporate & Community Health). We have seen an increase in participation every year and are so grateful to everyone who helps make this program possible.
Get Your Flu Shot!
Make sure you (and your family) are protected this flu season! The CDC recommends a flu shot for everyone 6 months of age and older (unless there are contraindications). View the recommendations here. You can also schedule an appointment with one of our primary care providers to get your flu shot.
The flu shot is one way to help you stay healthy, but there are other things you can do. Check the WakeMed website here for ways to avoid illness this fall and winter.
About Brian Klausner, MD
Dr. Brian Klausner is a full-time physician, board certified in Internal Medicine and serves as the Medical Director for the Wake Key Community Care ACO and WakeMed Community Population Health team.