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InFLUencer Deb Maitre Shares Her Passion for Flu Vaccinations

Posted on June 10, 2021
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Debra A. Maitre, DNP, APRN-CNS, RNC-OB, C-EFM, NEA-BC, is a Families Fighting Flu medical advisor and currently teaches in graduate nursing programs across the country.  Deb has done extensive research and education on influenza vaccination for health care professionals and is passionate about improving vaccination rates among health care professionals and patients alike.

The 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic was a turning point in my career. After caring for mothers and infants for many years, I was devastated when my hospital experienced two maternal deaths due to the flu. It fueled my passion to advocate for healthcare professionals to get flu vaccinations at a time when it was not yet required. I wanted nurses and doctors to do their part to protect our patients and community at large.

Soon after the H1N1 pandemic, healthcare systems became more assertive with flu vaccination efforts and eventually made them mandatory along with other vaccinations for highly contagious diseases such as the chicken pox.

While flu vaccination rates have improved greatly over the years, we still battle vaccine hesitancy in our communities. From my experience, key elements for vaccination adoption are:

  1. Convenience – make it easy for people to get vaccinated by offering them where people already gather.
  2. Emotional appeal – demonstrate that the flu can affect people and their family by sharing stories, such as those from Families Fighting Flu.
  3. Preventable message – reiterate that the flu can be avoided through annual vaccination for anyone 6 months of age and older.

While we work our way through the COVID-19 pandemic, I am hopeful that renewed attention on the power of vaccines will boost vaccination rates for the next flu season. I’m also hopeful we continue basic COVID-19 precautions that also helped protect against the flu this year: social distancing, normalizing mask wearing, and renewed appreciation for hand washing. We should all feel very energized by the fact that the flu is preventable through vaccination and simple measures like these. Please join me in encouraging vaccinations in your community.

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