To think that it was only a couple of years ago that getting your flu shot was a matter of personal discretion. You either got it, or you didn’t and life went on (hopefully without upper respiratory distress and moderate-to-high fevers).
But times have changed with the mutating virus, and perish the thought of not getting your shot. At our hospital, we have implemented a rather impressive system for choosing to not get your flu shot, including signing a declination form, stating your reasons, and then receiving a friendly reminder that the flu shot keeps our patients and the public safe...just so you know, hint, hint. This is for the greater good, I know—and I work at a hospital, so I know, I know, I know.
What I find most heartening, though, is how quickly we’ve managed to incorporate simple acts of public health into our daily customs. Neighbors ask if you’ve gotten your shot, and tell you where you can get it today. My six-year-old daughter asked me every day until I got it, and every day until I got it, she shook her head and waved a finger at me adding an accusatory, “Daddy.” We’re watching out for one another. She also reminds me what she's learning in school: “Your hands are the germiest part of your body, you know.” I know, I know, I know.
In my spare time, I am an English teacher. The college is on an aggressive campaign to make sure all employees are doing their part to prevent the flu this year. I noticed an increase of “flare” on the employees recently, then received an e-mail that explained: Wear your hand-washing campaign button during flu season, and you are entered to win raffle prizes. The prizes include gift cards to Macy’s, Best Buy, Target and Kohl’s.
I was curious. Maybe we could do something similar at our hospital.
I asked a button-wearer in the teacher's lounge whether or not she has increased her hand-washing habits as a result of the campaign. She shrugged her shoulders, and said, "Probably not any more than I normally did." Then she added, "But I sure would like that Macy's card."
That I should've known.