CDC volunteer flies in as a passenger

Written by By Ashton Wilkinson, CNN Robert A. Vidal has spent the past week at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport working as an airline passenger. That’s not a new experience for the Centers for Disease…

CDC volunteer flies in as a passenger

Written by By Ashton Wilkinson, CNN

Robert A. Vidal has spent the past week at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport working as an airline passenger.

That’s not a new experience for the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) employee, who’s traveled the world researching traveling zoonotic illnesses — those that can be transmitted from animals to humans — in recent years.

But, he did something a little more unusual than others who’ve done the research.

He spent the week volunteering to be a passenger on airplanes.

Turns out, DIA is offering this incentive to employees and passengers.

“I actually flew out of the airport three times,” said Vidal, “and on both of those times they took me as a passenger on the plane.”

Too busy

Once a month, Citi Airline & American Airlines officials take a few minutes from their normal training activities to give employees and passengers a vaccine shot.

The person being vaccinated is someone who wasn’t vaccinated before.

The same day, and the same vaccine, will be given to someone at the airport.

“But that person is really the volunteer,” said Andrea Judson, DIA’s manager of environmental health and safety.

“We’re giving this shot for a volunteer on their own time, not at the airport.”

Vidal, who spent three days at the airport, said he tried it out.

“It was really worthwhile,” he said. “I’m grateful that it’s in my employment.”

Worth it

Vidal’s infectious disease research is a consequence of flu season at the CDC.

That explains why he came to this local airport.

Since 1983, airports across the country have been giving the vaccine to employees and passengers.

“CDC has recommended that hospitals follow a common vaccine protocol,” explained Judson.

“They encourage that everyone who is not going to be exposed to an infectious disease get vaccinated because of the fact that it protects the people that are exposed. … So in that regard, having flu protection is a benefit to the community.”

This next year, CDC is planning to see how well this program is working.

It’s hoped that companies, if they wish, could work more closely with the CDC to offer flu vaccinations at different locations within the company.

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