Calling it as much about protecting your community as yourself, especially as flu season arrives during a global pandemic, Tulsa Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Deborah Gist and Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum received flu shots at a Tuesday press conference and urged Tulsans to do the same.
"It is the most important thing that we can do to prevent and minimize flu in our community," said Ellen Niemitalo, clinical services manager at the Tulsa Health Department, who administered the vaccines. "It doesn't just protect against the individual who's receiving the shot but everyone around them, their family, their community, their schools, their classrooms, their places of business."
"At the larger scale, too, if we're reducing the incidence of influenza, like Mayor Bynum has said, that's going to reduce stressors on our health care system," Niemitalo said. "Our health care system has been doing a fabulous job of responding to the COVID pandemic. We want to make sure they still have the capacity and it's not stretched because of influenza when influenza can be prevented."
"We want our kids in school, we want them to be physically in school, and we want them to stay there once we're there," Gist said. "This is one of the steps that everyone can do to help us make that happen."
Rolling up his sleeve for his vaccine, Bynum expressed one regret.
"I wish I'd done a little more lifting over the pandemic, really brought the gun show here today," the mayor said.
Bynum compared getting the flu vaccine to another public health measure being taken to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
"I really liken it to wearing a mask. You know who loves wearing masks? No one that I have met," Bynum said. "Similar to getting shots. Nobody likes getting a shot, and yet it is something that we can do that is a very minor inconvenience but can have a tremendous positive impact for not only our own health but those around us, and protecting our hospital capacity here in Tulsa."
The flu shot is available at most local pharmacies, as well as for little or no cost by appointment at a number of Tulsa Health Department locations. More information is available at the THD website.