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State’s Health Officer says get your flu shot

Dr. Kathy Lofy says, “You should get your (flu) shot.”

Dr. Kathy Lofy says, “You should get your (flu) shot.”

Photo and article by
Dick Pust
FTE News Magazine
Have you gotten your flu shot yet? If not, why not? It could save your life. Washington State’s Health Officer Dr. Kathy Lofy says an estimated 100 to 1000 people in our state die from the illness each year. The exact number of deaths is hard to calculate because it varies from year to year depending on the severity of the outbreak. Also, many deaths from the flu are not reported or are reported under other causes.

Whatever the case, Dr. Lofy says, “You should get your shot”. Currently around half of Washington’s residents are vaccinated each year. Lofy’s goal is to raise that figure to at least 80%. It’s especially important for young children and those 65 or older and those with certain health conditions. I just got my shot. I do it every year simply because I don’t want to get the flu. I can’t think of a reason not to get one.

Encouraging people to get the flu shot is just one of the many things the Washington State Department of Health does. Its mission is to “work with others to protect and improve the health of all people in Washington State.” That’s a pretty important task and Dr. Lofy takes it seriously. She said she started her career as a pediatric physician. Now, she says, “I treat the whole population.”

Dr. Lofy grew up in Chicago. Her education includes a BA in human biology from Stanford and her doctorate from UCLA School of Medicine. Dr. Lofy is married and is the mother of two boys –ages 8 and 9. Her husband, Patrick, is a small business owner, recently involved in a number of Sylvan Learning Centers. Dr. Lofy works out of two offices – one in Tumwater where I did this interview and the other in Shoreline where she spends most of her time.

“One of my passions is preventing disease. Prevention is the key to making our population healthier,” says Dr. Lofy. “Two ways of doing this is to make sure our children are vaccinated and encouraging people not to smoke.” She says there has been pretty good progress in those two goals, but there’s another challenge – obesity. Tackling that problem, Dr. Lofy says, has been a little tougher, but they are working on it.
Dr. Lofy says the State Department of Health has three main goals.

  1. 1. Number one is protection from communicable disease and other health threats. Ebola is a recent example. So is the outbreak of Enterovirus among children. The Department wants to make sure hospitals and other medical facilities are ready for emergencies.
  2. A second goal is to prevent illness and injury and promote ongoing wellness. That includes making sure babies get a healthy start in life. It also includes increasing immunization rates and promoting tobacco-free living. It even includes protecting people from violence and raising public awareness and strategies to promote mental health.
  3. The third goal is to improve access to quality, affordable, and integrated healthcare.

So, back to the original question – have you gotten your flu shot yet? It’s virtually painless and only takes a few minutes of your time. Each year thousands of people in the Untied Stated die from the flu and many more are hospitalized. Flu vaccine is the best protection against the flu and its complications. Some people worry they’ll actually get the flu from the vaccination, but that can’t happen. The vaccines do not contain any live influenza virus. So, do it – get your flu shot.

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