'Hit me with your flu shot': Christiana Care vaccinates thousands of employees in one day

Thousands of Christiana Care employees found themselves on the receiving end of a needle Thursday during a marathon campaign to protect health care employees from influenza, and by extension protecting their patients and the community.

Beginning at 4 a.m. and lasting into the nighttime, employees in scrubs and uniforms received their flu shots at Christiana Care's Wilmington and Newark-area hospitals. Other Christiana Care locations also offered the shot, and roving crews had the vaccine on hand as well.

"It is flu season, so we ask all of our patients if they want to get the flu shot," registered nurse Shana Williams-Walker said shortly after receiving hers.

Christiana Care, one of the largest employers in Delaware, tried to make it fun for the employees who turned out. PAWS for People brought Goofy, a therapy dog, to the Wilmington campus, which also received a visit from Blue Rocks mascot Rocky Bluewinkle. At Christiana Hospital, hospital employees posed for post-shot selfies. They shared their experience under the hashtag #hitmewithyourflushot.

"We do patient care face-to-face all day so it's very important to get the vaccine to prevent the spread of the flu and any further illness the patients might already have," occupational therapist Paige Woodham said.

As a secondary purpose, the marathon effort also served as a drill.

"If we ever had to mass-vaccinate our entire workforce in a very rapid fashion, this is 'how would we do it?" Christiana Care Chief Infection Prevention Officer and Hospital Epidemiologist Dr. Marci Drees said. 

"Health care workers definitely need to get the flu vaccine. They're exposed to flu all the time once it gets into the community," Drees added. "We don't want them getting sick, not being able to work. We don't want them to bring it home to their families, and we want to protect our patients."

Reporter - Anchor

Mark Fowser is a veteran journalist in Delaware.