Employees lined up on October 5 when Kaweah Delta kicked off the first day of its employee flu vaccination season in an effort to keep patients and visitors safe from the flu this year amid COVID-19.
“Getting the flu vaccination and taking all the preventative measures we’re taking with COVID, will help this season,” said Shawn Elkin, Kaweah Delta’s Infection Prevention Manager. “It will reduce the negative impact of both of these viruses circulating at the same time.”
Kaweah Delta has made flu vaccinations available for years, but since 2015, in line with the State’s urging of hospitals, Kaweah Delta has required all staff to either get a flu vaccination or wear a facemask through cold and flu season. On this first day of vaccinations, approximately 300 of Kaweah Delta’s more than 5,000 employees received their flu shot to protect patients and visitors (vaccinations are given at no cost to employees, as well as medical staff providers and residents). Kaweah Delta is among the top 10 percent of hospitals in the U.S. for its flu vaccination compliance, said Gloria Simonetti, Kaweah Delta’s Employee Health Services Manager.
“We want to prevent getting the flu and we want to protect our patients because we are working so closely with them,” said Simonetti, noting that employees have until mid-November to get a flu shot.
Kaweah Delta’s staff influenza vaccination rate was 99 percent last year, and was 98 percent for the two years prior, all of which exceed the national Healthy People goal of 90 percent, Elkin said. The latest information available from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) shows that 98 percent of Kaweah Delta’s staff have been given influenza vaccination. In California, the average percentage of healthcare workers given influenza vaccination is 85 percent.
Influenza vaccination coverage among health care personnel is an important measure of a hospital’s health care quality, according to CDPH. Health care personnel who receive annual influenza vaccination make an important contribution to prevent transmission of influenza to high-risk patients, their families, and the community.
Although Kaweah Delta has already seen cases of the flu this season, it will officially begin its surveillance and reporting of cases to the Tulare County Health and Human Services Agency from Nov. 1 through March 31, 2021. Last year, Kaweah Delta saw 4,273 cases of the flu, two-third of which were seen on an outpatient basis, with 339 hospitalized cases, Elkin said.
Flu shots are available at Kaweah Delta Urgent Care and clinic locations for patients 3 years and older. When people experience cold and flu symptoms, Kaweah Delta urges the public to seek care from their personal physicians for conditions that are not life threatening or will not require hospitalization. When that is not possible or the condition is urgent, but not life threatening, people are urged to visit an urgent care facility or a walk-in clinic instead of the emergency department. The following locations are available:
- Kaweah Delta Urgent Care: 1633 S. Court St., Visalia, 624-6090
Hours: 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily
- Kaweah Delta Urgent Care: 3600 W. Flagstaff Ave., Visalia, 624-6800
Hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily
- Sequoia Prompt Care: 1110 S. Ben Maddox Way, Visalia, 624-4800
Hours: 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., weekdays; 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturdays; 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sundays (Closed on Christmas and New Year’s Day).
- Visalia Medical Clinic’s QuickCare: 5400 W. Hillsdale Ave., Visalia, 738-7555
Hours: 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., weekdays; 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays; 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sundays
If people do not have a physician and need one, a same-day appointment may be available by calling:
- Sequoia Health & Wellness Centers: 202 W. Willow Ave. (5th floor), Visalia, 624-4820
The following conditions/injuries (not an exhaustive list) can be treated at Kaweah Delta Urgent Care, Sequoia Prompt Care, or Visalia Medical Clinic’s QuickCare:
- Fever or flu symptoms (cold, sore throat, cough)
- Sprains, broken bones, fractures
- Mild asthma/breathing difficulties
- Abdominal pain
- Cuts (minimal blood, stitches or staples)
- Ear infections
- Vomiting, diarrhea or dehydration
- Animal bites
- Urinary tract infections
- Burns or chemical exposure
- Infected wounds
The following conditions/injuries should be treated at Kaweah Delta’s Emergency Department:
- Heart attacks/strokes
- Uncontrollable severe bleeding
- Sudden or severe pain
- Coughing blood or vomiting blood
- Severe breathing difficulties
- Sudden dizziness, weakness or vision changes
- Severe vomiting or diarrhea
- Changes in mental status/confusion
- Open bone fractures
If you are experiencing any of these conditions, please call 911 immediately.