Press Releases FirstLight receives a blue ribbon for influenza vaccination rates FirstLight Recognized for efforts to protect patients from influenza – 93 percent of facility’s employees received influenza vaccination in 2016-17 FirstLight Health System was among 139 hospitals and nursing homes from around the state recognized today by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) for achieving high influenza vaccination rates among facility employees during the 2016-17 flu season. FirstLight had 490 vaccinated employees, representing 93 percent of staff, received influenza vaccinations during the past season of the Minnesota FluSafe program. The facility received a blue ribbon and certificate of achievement from Minnesota Commissioner of Health Edward Ehlinger for its efforts. The FluSafe program aims to get 100 percent of all health care personnel at hospitals and nursing homes in Minnesota, except those with medical exemptions, vaccinated against influenza each season. According to state health officials, unvaccinated health care workers can potentially pass highly contagious influenza to their patients, many of whom are at high risk for complications from influenza. “The health of our patients is our top priority,” said Cindy Teichroew, BSN, RN, CIC, Infection Prevention Practitioner, at FirstLight. “Participating in the FluSafe program helps us increase our employee influenza vaccination rates and prevent flu from spreading to our patients.” Of the 149 facilities that participated in FluSafe this year, 67 reached vaccination rates of 90 percent or greater, 41 reached rates of between 80 and 89 percent, and 31 reached rates of between 70 and 79 percent. “After seven years of FluSafe, we continue to be grateful for – and impressed by – the important steps participating facilities, like FirstLight are taking to prevent flu through health care worker vaccination,” said Kristen Ehresmann, director of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Prevention and Control at MDH. Health care facilities participating in the FluSafe program receive guidance and access to tools and promotional materials from MDH and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to help them increase their influenza vaccination rates. The facilities record and document their vaccination rates through the state’s immunization information system, the Minnesota Immunization Information Connection (MIIC). More information on the FluSafe program, including a list of the 2016-17 facilities earning blue, red, and white ribbons, can be found on mdhflu.com. FirstLight does offer a walk-in clinic for flu shots, in Mora, Pine City and Hinckley, from now until November 30, 2017 from 8:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. No appointment is necessary.