All posts by ilanamarcus2018

Despite risks, flu shot not required for staff at many nursing facilities

By Ilana Marcus
Medill Reports

Staff at many skilled-nursing and rehabilitation facilities in Chicago are not required to receive the vaccination against influenza, despite working with some of the most vulnerable members of the population.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not issue any vaccination requirements for health care workers, and while some facilities encourage their staff to get flu shots, ultimately the decision is left to the individual staffer.

The consequences of seniors coming down with influenza this year can be deadly, said Teri Dreher, CEO of Northshore Patient Advocates and registered nurse.

“It’s a very bad idea” for staffers who have direct patient contact to forego vaccination, she said. “The infections out there are so dangerous to seniors, both the flu and bacterial infections.”

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Psychological impact of gun violence causes public health crisis

By Ilana Marcus
Medill Reports

The long-lasting psychological impact and mental disorders stemming from exposure to gun violence have made Chicago’s shooting epidemic a public-health issue, a panel of experts said last week at an event hosted by Cook County.

That’s on top of the monetary costs to the health system associated with treating gunshot victims, said panelists.

The panel was the first event of a Cook County initiative to bring awareness to the intersection of gun violence and public health. The goal is to encourage lawmakers to create policy addressing these issues, said Alejandro Aixalá, executive director of the Cook County Justice Advisory Council.

“We do prevention and treatment, trying to reduce the likelihood of these things happening,” he said, discussing both preemptive and reactive efforts to minimize gun violence.

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Health experts still advise late-season flu shots; some say ‘No, thanks’

By Ilana Marcus
Medill Reports

Liz Solheim waited to pick up a prescription at a Walgreens in Lakeview Tuesday evening, where the sign out front announced, “Come and get your flu shot” in red LED lettering.

She had not gotten a flu shot this season, and doses of the flu vaccine were available for sale. It could not have been easier to get the shot, but Solheim, 30, was not interested.

“I guess my mind was sort of already made up,” she said of her decision to remain unvaccinated. While she knows people who have contracted the flu this season, including her employers and some friends, Solheim is comfortable taking her chances.

“I don’t really get sick that often,” she said.

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