Extra Steps Hospital Is Taking To Slow Down The Flu

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(Memphis) Call it a big dose of preventive medicine.

For the first time, the Methodist Le Bonheur Health Care System is making all employees who come in contact with patients get a flu shot.

Workers who don't get the vaccine will have to wear a mask.

The idea is to protect patients and keep the flu from spreading.

So far 80% of hospital workers have gotten the shot.

"This is a national trend that we make the flu shot mandatory to protect our patients because not everyone want to get the flu shot every year and Methodist has decided it's the best thing for our patients," said Dr. Jon McCullers, a global influenza specialist with Le Bonheur.

The peak of the flu season is in January, but health care professionals say now is the time to get vaccinated.

Today, the Shelby County Health Department began offering flu shots at all of its clinics, and is asking patients to tweet a picture of the band-aid on their arm to show they are protected.

This year, there is a new vaccine that will protect you from four strains of the flu.

"We've had a problem for about fifteen years with two 'B' influenza strains circulating, and every year they would pick one strain to put in the vaccine and they would pick wrong and the other strain would circulate. This new one that has all four will cover both 'B' strains," said Dr. McCullers.

Doctors say anyone six months or older should get a flu shot or nasal spray vaccine.

Baptist Memorial Health Care is holding a free flu clinic  Saturday, November 2, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Main Library on Poplar, at Baptist Collierville and Baptist Minor Med-Olive Branch.