Genesis Kicks Off 11th Flu-Free Quad Cities Campaign
More than 9,000 elementary school students in the region are expected to roll up their sleeves and help prevent the spread of seasonal influenza this season.
Genesis Flu-Free Quad Cities is celebrating its 11th year of the campaign to reduce the effects and spread of seasonal influenza. The Flu-Free teams of nurses from Genesis Visiting Nurse Association will be visiting nearly 90 elementary schools to provide free flu protection.
“We believe elementary school students, who are very effective carriers of seasonal flu, are playing an important role in preventing the spread of flu in Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois,’’ said Michele Cullen, RN, BSN, community health manager for Genesis VNA and Hospice. “Each student who rolls up their sleeve for flu protection may be preventing a baby sibling, a grandparent or someone they are around with a chronic illness from getting the flu.
“Vaccination is the best way to prevent someone from having the flu and also from passing it to others.’’
It is estimated that each person who is vaccinated against seasonal influenza helps protect up to five others from getting the flu.
“That is important because flu can be deadly,’’ said Ken Croken, chief marketing officer for Genesis Health System and one of the originators of Flu-Free Quad Cities. “Thousands of Americans die each year from complications related to seasonal influenza.’’
While young, healthy kids are not as susceptible to severe complications from the flu, they may be around people who are susceptible. At highest risk statistically are the very young, the very old and anyone with a chronic health condition.
Cullen said virtually everyone older than 6 months old should receive a flu shot. The only exceptions, she said, are those with medical conditions preventing them from receiving a vaccination.
In the first ten years of Flu-Free Quad Cities, 73,708 elementary school students have received free flu vaccinations. The first year was a pilot project and only 400 students were vaccinated. The vaccinations are available with parental consent.
Flu-Free Quad Cities is funded by the Genesis Health Services Foundation and donations and fundraising activities throughout the year. Those activities include sports team jersey auctions, the amusement rides available at Quad City River Bandits games at Modern Woodmen Park, and individual and corporate donations.
Regardless of family income, the vaccinations are available at no cost to families.
Flu-Free Quad Cities is just one of the Genesis efforts to make the region flu free. This season, Genesis will provide nearly 50,000 flu vaccinations combined from the hospital campuses, Genesis Health Group offices, 5,000 vaccinations of Genesis employees and volunteers and through the efforts of Genesis VNA and Hospice and Genesis Occupational Health.
“The year there is a blanket of flu protection over the region we will have been successful,’’ said Missy Gowey, executive director, Genesis Health Services Foundation. “Until then, we’ll keep expanding our efforts to prevent an illness that is dangerous for the very young, the elderly and people with compromised immune defenses.’’
Flu-Free Quad Cities Historical Numbers
2007 (pilot) -- 400
2008 -- 3,000
2009 -- 9,450
2010 -- 9,400
2011 -- 9,400
2012 – 7,974
2013 – 8,010
2014 – 8,700
2015 – 8,806
2016 – 8,568
TOTAL – 73,708