As part of an initiative to vaccinate some of Chicago’s most vulnerable populations, University of Chicago Medicine nurses will administer free flu shots to licensed taxicab drivers at O’Hare International Airport on Tuesday, Sept. 25, and at Midway International Airport the following Tuesday, Oct. 2. Up to 1,000 cabbies could be vaccinated over the two days.
Taxi drivers are among the many professionals particularly susceptible to flu-virus exposure due to high levels of daily interaction with the general public. Organizers of this vaccination effort say offering the shots at two of the city’s busiest airports is an effective way to reach this group of workers, who either often lack access to the seasonal shot or are unaware of its importance.
“The question we’re asking taxi drivers is whether they can afford to miss a week of work,” says Kenneth Alexander, MD, PhD, professor of pediatric medicine and chief of pediatric infectious diseases at the University of Chicago Medicine. “Studies have confirmed that people in this industry don’t typically place preventative health care among their top priorities. But there’s no doubt most would cringe at the thought of losing time on the road. By bringing the vaccine to their turf at no cost, we’ve removed the hurdles to protecting themselves and their customers against influenza. Prevention has never been easier.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone 6 months and older be vaccinated against seasonal flu. Experts stress that while there’s no way to predict the severity of each flu season, vaccination is always the best defense.
“Taxi drivers play a critical role in welcoming visitors to our city and ensuring their passengers safe and reliable transportation,” Alexander says. “We’re pleased to offer them this valuable healthcare service.”
Source: University of Chicago Medical Center