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City partners with fire department and Carthage College to get flu shots to employees
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City partners with fire department and Carthage College to get flu shots to employees

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KFD, Carthage team for city flu shots

dsmith@kenoshanews.com

As public health officials continue to urge the importance of getting flu shots this year, the Kenosha Fire Department teamed with nursing students from Carthage College to vaccinate city employees.

Mayor John Antaramian was the first in line Friday morning.

Jim Poltrock, division chief of emergency medical services for the Fire Department, said the city’s 800-plus employees are typically offered free flu shots through an annual health risk assessment required as part of the city’s insurance plan.

Those assessments were cancelled this year because of COVID-19 restrictions, he said. Poltrock said the city needed an alternative approach to make it easy for employees to get the shot. He said the city had a plan in place to get vaccines to employees in a crisis, such as a biological attack, so they turned to that protocol.

Poltrock said he reached out to the nursing program staff at Carthage College to see if its students would like to help provide the shots along with KFD paramedics. The students ride along with department paramedics as part of their training.

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“It is a nice public-private partnership,” Poltrock said.

The shots were offered at a large meeting room at the Kenosha Public Museum, which allowed social distancing. Poltrock said Kenosha will likely use a similar process to vaccinate city workers if and when a COVID-19 vaccine becomes available.

Antaramian said employees aren’t required to have the flu vaccine, but are encouraged to do so.

About 80 people were vaccinated Thursday during the first day of the program, about 80 more were expected on Friday.

More critical than ever

Dr. Tom Grawey, assistant professor of emergency medicine at the Medical College of Wisconsin, said flu vaccines prevent thousands of hospitalizations and deaths each year nationally, which he said is more critical than ever this year as the nation grapples with the pandemic, and especially in Wisconsin which has one of the highest rates of infection in the United States.

Grawey said people who get the vaccine will also help protect people from the possibility of contracting COVID after having already had an immune system weakened by the flu.

“People need to be vigilant, they need to be careful,” Antaramian said of the pandemic, adding he has been frustrated by people who don’t take the danger of the illness seriously. “We need to do the common sense things to keep people safe.”

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