Christiana Care's HitMeWithYourFluShot campaign strives to vaccinate over 11,000 employees in one day to help prevent the spread of influenza

In her nearly 41 years with Christiana Care, Janice DeMichiel has given an untold number of flu shots to both patients and fellow employees.

This week, however, DeMichiel is part of an ambitious in-house program to vaccinate all 11,000 of Christiana Care’s employees in one day with the #HitMeWithYourFluShot campaign.

On Thursday, Oct. 11, Christiana Care embarked on one of “the largest flu vaccination campaigns in history,” according to a press release, vaccinating employees at over 70 locations in four states.

At Christiana Care Family Medicine at Hockessin Center, where she now works as an LPN, DeMichiel plans on giving 18 of its 20 employees the jab on Thursday  – minus the two currently on vacation.

“And we’ll get them on Monday,” she said. “We won’t miss ‘em.”

Early on Thursday morning, mobile crews from Christiana Care distributed vaccination kits to various locations, with pre-filled syringes, Band-Aids, gloves, and alcohol wipes.

Employees who couldn't be vaccinated in office had the option to visit Christiana or Wilmington Hospital for their shots.

DeMichiel said that having the kits delivered helped employees who otherwise would have had to visit one of the hospitals to participate.

“It also helps our patients feel safe, knowing that the staff is protected,” said office assistant Amanda Grieco, who also received her shot Thursday morning. “Hopefully that’s going to want them to be protected as well.”

Although yearly flu vaccinations are not mandatory, senior media relations manager Hiran Ratnayake said that over 90 percent of their employees voluntarily get the shot, to protect themselves and their patients from infection.

“If they don’t get the shot, they have to wear a [surgical] mask for the entire flu season,” DeMichiel said.

“We know that if we can vaccinate our staff, that they’re going to be better able to treat their patients,” Ratnayake said.

DeMichiel said that while you might feel some discomfort at the injection site – a common side effect of any inoculation – you won’t get sick from an influenza vaccine.

“It’s not a live virus, so it’s not possible to get the flu from the shot,” she said.

Ratnatake said the mass vaccination is also a preparedness exercise for the company in the case of certain emergency situations.

“If there’s ever some kind of terrorism act where we needed to vaccinate our caregivers in a very short timeframe, this is another way for us to assess how that would go,” he said.  

The Center for Disease Control recommends a yearly flu vaccine for just about everyone 6 months and older, even when the viruses the vaccine protects against have not changed from the previous season.

The Delaware Department of Health and Social Services, which maintains weekly influenza reports each year, said that 5 to 20 percent of the population gets the flu on average annually, with more than 200,000 hospitalized from flu complications, and about 36,000 associated deaths in the United States alone.

The CDC reported in September that roughly 80,000 people died from the flu in 2017, making it the worst flu season in the United States since 1976.

According to the CDC website, it’s not possible to predict what this flu season will be like each year.

“While flu spreads every year, the timing, severity, and length of the season varies from one season to another,” the site states.