Flu Fighter: Lori Boyle
Meet Flu Fighter Lori Boyle, a nurse practitioner certified in adult/geriatric primary care and wound care, and Nurses Who Vaccinate member. And she’s a self- proclaimed geek. Give her a good peer reviewed study and a movie with superheroes, lasers or dragons and she’s a happy girl. In providing wound care services to several skilled nursing facilities, she was taken aback by the number of healthcare workers in these facilities that do not get the annual flu shot. Elderly residing in skilled nursing facilities are some of the most vulnerable, and Boyle has made it her mission to increase flu vaccination among the healthcare workers taking care of these patients. She finds that education with a bit of silliness goes a long way to increase understanding about the seriousness of flu and the importance of flu vaccination.
Name: Lori Boyle, MSN, AGPCNP – BC, WCC, CWS
Title: Nurse Practitioner
Location: New Jersey
- In your role, how do you prepare for flu season each year?
I have recently begun combining my love of pop culture with evidence based practice to provide fun and educational inservice presentations to skilled nursing facility (SNF) employees. Since I have more cosplay costumes than an adult my age should, I couldn’t think of a better use for them. This year’s theme is “Be A Vax Hero.” I gave my presentation in my Wonder Woman costume and gave out “I Am A Vax Hero” stickers to all who signed a pledge to get the flu shot. I already have themes lined up for the next couple of years with costumes to match.
- What is the most difficult part of flu prevention?
Combatting misconceptions. Social media and the internet are both a blessing and a curse. It is a wonderful way to connect and find information. Unfortunately there is a lot of bad information out there. It takes a lot of work to help people understand what is valid information and what is sensationalist headlines with no scientific support
- Why do you think people underestimate the seriousness of flu illness?
A major factor is that many people falsely believe that every upper respiratory viral illness they get is flu. When people get over that in a few days, they incorrectly feel that they survived it just fine so it’s no big deal. There are 99 + upper respiratory viral illness going around at this time of year, but only flu is flu. And flu will knock you out. I have cared for young, otherwise healthy patients in the ICU battling complications of flu. It is no small thing.
- Why is it important to get the flu shot every year?
The more people who get the vaccine, the less the virus has a viable host to spread. It is so important for healthcare workers especially in skilled nursing facilities, as those residents spend day-in-and-day-out in these places. They do not leave the facility. If they get flu it is because someone brought it in. There is epidemiological evidence that flu vaccination of health care workers in SNFs reduces mortality of the residents. It is the responsible thing to do for ourselves, our loved ones and the people we care for.
- What would you say to those who are hesitant about getting the flu shot?
Talk to your health care provider about your concerns. He or she can explain why the benefit of flu vaccine far outweighs the risk and that some protection is always better than none. Or ask me!