By Lesley Weidenbener
INDIANAPOLIS – Gov. Mike Pence laughed and Kroger pharmacist Jennifer Focht seized the moment.
Gov. Mike Pence gets his annual flu shot from Kroger pharmacist resident Jennifer Focht. Pence urged Hoosiers to go get vaccinations before the flu season hits. Last winter, 72 people in Indiana died from the flu. Photo by Lesley Weidenbener, TheStatehouseFile.com
She’d just jokingly asked him: So now what do you do here?
It caught the governor off guard. He chuckled and that’s just when she poked a needle into his arm, administering the governor’s annual flu shot while reporters looked on in his office.
“A distraction,” said State Health Commissioner Bill VanNess, who was waiting to receive his shot.
“I try,” Focht said, as she put a Band-Aid on the governor’s arm, “because so many people are afraid of needles.”
The vaccine has become a gubernatorial tradition and Pence – like governors before him – used the occasion to urge other Hoosiers to get a shot as well.
Last winter, 72 people died in Indiana from complications of the flu. The vast majority of those deaths occurred in people at least 50 years old.
That’s why health officials are urging Hoosiers to be vaccinated before the flu season begins in earnest next month.
Flu – or influenza – is a contagious illness caused by a virus that infects the respiratory tract. It can take a mild form or a severe one that can lead to fatalities.
Health experts say the flu vaccine – which is developed annually to fight the most recent strains of the virus – is the best protection.
“Highly effective, virtually painless,” Pence said. “We encourage every state employee and hopefully every Hoosier to get their flu shot early this year and have a healthier and better winter for it.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, anyone older than 6 months should have a flu vaccine. But officials say they are particularly important for:
– People who have certain medical conditions including asthma, diabetes, and chronic lung disease.
– Pregnant women.
– Children younger than 5 years (and especially those younger than 2) and people 65 years and older.
– People who live with or care for others who are at high risk of developing serious complications.
VanNess said people can’t get the flu from the vaccine because the virus used to make it is not living.
Correction: This story has been corrected from its original version to reflect the correct spelling of Jennifer Focht. TheStatehouseFile.com regrets the mistake. See all our corrections at http://thestatehousefile.com/info/corrections/.