He’s making a list. He’s checking it twice. And then he got his flu shot.

VA North Texas Health Care System gave its 10,000th flu shot of fiscal year 2018 to Santa Claus. Well, actually, Santa Jim, or more precisely, Veteran, North Texas patient and professional Santa, James Boltin. Boltin’s proactive efforts to ward off an influenza infection represented a key outreach milestone for the VA North Texas Flu Task Force as part of its Influenza Awareness Month.

Image: VA North Texas Veteran patient and professional Santa, Jim Boltin, was the recipient of the 10,000th flu vaccine during October's Influenza Awareness Month.Every flu season is different, and influenza infection can affect people differently. The task force set its sights on vaccinating and educating as many of VA North Texas’ 133,000 active patients as possible, while also dispelling myths that often prevent some Veterans from getting a flu shot. Millions of people get the flu every year and the Centers for Disease Control estimate that flu-related hospitalizations approach 800,000, yearly, while flu-related deaths are estimated to be anywhere from 12,000 to 56,000.

Flu vaccines have good safety record and have been in use for over 50 years. To augment current patient and employee safety, Veterans Health Administration Directive 1192 was recently issued to mandate yearly flu vaccinations for all VA staff members and those who volunteer and conduct business within VA medical facilities.

“We want to vaccinate as many of our heroes and employees as possible,” said registered nurse Sheila Wise and VA North Texas Flu Taskforce Chair. “When we got within 200 of our 10,000-shot milestone, the reality of our outreach became very real and exciting.”

When Boltin approached the mobile clinic for his flu shot, bells and whistles accompanied a frame certificate, a balloon and goody bag to celebrate the milestone vaccination. But the celebration was short-lived as Veterans and employees continued to line up for their shots.

The task force was happy that they could do their part to ensure Santa, a.k.a. Boltin, would be free of influenza as he approached the busy holiday season. After all, Santa has many children to greet and many miles to travel when he’s not getting his health care at VA North Texas.

About the author: Jeffrey Clapper is a public affairs specialist for VA North Texas Health Care System. He is a decorated combat Veteran, award winning photojournalist and documentary film maker. He still believes in Santa.

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Published on Oct. 30, 2017

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