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Phoebe Undertakes More Efficient Flu Vaccination Process for Employees

Albany, Ga. – 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.  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 & Chief Executive Officer.

With the potential for a flu outbreak to coincide with a surge in COVID-19 cases this fall or winter, it is 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.  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,” said Steven Kitchen, MD, Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital Chief Medical Officer.

Phoebe Physicians hosted flu shot clinics at various primary care locations throughout the region on weekends over the last month, vaccinating more than 260 people.  Phoebe began administering flu shots to its employees Friday, Oct. 2 and will continue to so through Sunday, Oct. 11.  Nearly 1,000 employees received their vaccinations on the first day.  “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.

Phoebe made several changes to make the process run more efficiently this year.  Team members can fill out consent forms online, rather than in person when they receive their vaccination.  Clinical departments that have the resources to vaccinate their employees were given vaccines to do so.  Stationary vaccination locations were set up at all hospital campuses that employees can visit at their convenience, and mobile vaccination locations are being deployed to areas throughout the health system.

“The flu shot can take a couple of weeks to become fully effective, so the sooner you get vaccinated, the better chance you have of avoiding the virus this flu season,” Dr. Kitchen said.  “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,” he added.

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.  “We take our responsibility to protect our communities seriously.  We have been on the frontlines of this fight since March, and we expect to play a vital role in providing the people of southwest Georgia with access to a vaccine to protect them from COVID-19 as soon as it is available,” Steiner said.