This year, the flu season looks different, with the pandemic of the coronavirus killing more than 172,000 people. Many Americans are reluctant to visit doctors’ offices, and public health officials worry that people hesitate to be vaccinated.
Influenza is sometimes mistakenly considered another terrible cold, but tens of thousands of people die in the United States each year, with the very young, the elderly, and those with underlying illnesses being the most vulnerable. Combined with the impact of COVID-19, public health experts say that getting a flu shot is more important than ever.
If enough people in the U.S. population were vaccinated-more than 45% done last year’s flu season-this is coming winter with both COVID-19 patients and hospitals suffering from the severe effects of influenza Helps avoid nightmare scenarios in our hospital.
Aside from the potential strain on the hospital, people can be infected with both viruses. “No one knows what happens if you get the flu and COVID. [simultaneously] Dr Rachel Levine, Secretary of Health of Pennsylvania, told reporters this month.
Accordingly, manufacturers are producing more vaccine supplies this year, 194 million to 198 million timesAccording to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 20 million more than the distribution last season.
As the flu season is approaching, here are some answers to some common questions.
Q: When should I be vaccinated against influenza?
Advertising has already begun and some pharmacies and clinics are now supplying supplies. However, because the effectiveness of vaccines can decline over time, CDC Recommended for August shots..
Many pharmacies and clinics will start vaccinations in early September. Influenza viruses generally begin to spread from mid-October to late-October, but spread further in winter. It takes about two weeks for the antibodies that circulate in the blood and block the infection to accumulate. Dr. Steve Miller, Chief Clinical Officer of insurance company CIGNA, said:
The CDC recommended “get the flu vaccine by the end of October”, but “vacuum vaccination throughout the flu season is still beneficial and the vaccination needs to be provided,” and later It is not too late to inoculate.
Still, some experts don’t wait too long this year, just in case the shortage arises not just because of COVID-19, but because of overwhelming demand.
Q: What is the reason for rolling up your sleeves?
It is possible to prevent the spread of influenza and transmission to other people, and reduce the burden on hospitals and medical staff.
And there’s another message that might resonate at this strange time.
“It gives people a sense that there are some things you can control,” said Eduardo Sanchez, Chief Medical Officer for Prevention at the American Heart Association.
Although flu vaccination does not prevent COVID-19, he said, if symptoms such as fever, coughing and sore throat may help doctors distinguish between the illnesses, he said.
In addition, not all influenza can be prevented by vaccination against influenza, but if you get sick, you can reduce the severity by receiving vaccination.
You will not get the flu even if you get the flu vaccine.
all Target personAccording to the CDC, particularly high-risk workers, workers with underlying illnesses, and high-risk workers, including very young children and pregnant women, should seek protection. It is recommended that children over 6 months old be vaccinated.
Q: What do we know about the effectiveness of this year’s vaccine?
Influenza vaccines need to be newly developed each year as the influenza virus mutates — they can be effective each year, depending on their fitness with the circulating virus. It was estimated that last year’s formulation was about 45% effective in preventing influenza overall and about 55% effective in children. The vaccines available in the US this year aim to prevent at least 3 strains of virus, and most cover 4 strains.
It remains to be seen how well this year’s supply fits into the circulating system in the United States. Early signs from the Southern Hemisphere are encouraging with the flu season in our summer. There, people practiced social distances, wore masks, and were more vaccinated this year — and global flu levels are lower than expected. Experts are cautioning, however, not to rely on similarly mild seasons in the United States, as masking and social separation efforts vary.
Q: Is the insurance system different from the medical system this year?
Insurers and healthcare systems contacted by KHN say they will follow CDC guidelines that limit the number of people waiting in queues and vaccination areas and require that they be spaced. Some have scheduled flu shots to help manage the flow.
Health Fitness Concepts, a company that works with UnitedHealth Group and other companies to set up an influenza shot clinic in the northeast, “encourages smaller, more frequent events to support social distances,” “We are requesting that all forms be completed and the shirt sleeves be wrapped,” he said. Before entering the influenza vaccination area. “Everyone needs to wear a mask.
Also, nationwide, some doctor groups with UnitedHealth have set up tent areas for outdoor photography, said a spokesperson.
Kaiser Permanente plans drive-through vaccinations at some healthcare facilities and is testing touch-free screening and check-in procedures at some locations. (KHN is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.)
Geisinger Health, a community health institution in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, also said it would implement an outdoor flu vaccination program at the facility.
In addition, “Geisinger requires all employees to receive the influenza vaccine this year,” said Mark Shelley, who is responsible for infection prevention and control of the system. “By taking this step, I want to tell my neighbors the importance of influenza vaccines to everyone.”
Q: I usually get a flu shot at work. Is that a choice this year?
Aiming to avoid dangerous indoor gatherings, many employers are reluctant to sponsor the onsite flu clinic they have offered in the last few years. And because so many people continue to work at home, there is less need to bring flu shots to employees at work. Instead, many employers encourage workers in pharmacies and other local settings to take pictures from their primary care physician. Insurance usually covers the cost of the vaccine.
Julie Stone, managing director of health and benefits at consulting firm Willis Towers Watson, said that some employers had flu vaccination coupons for uninsured workers and those who weren’t part of the company’s plans. We are considering offering. For example, vouchers allow you to shoot for free in certain labs.
Some employers are beginning to think about how parking will be used to manage drive-through influenza vaccination, said Dr. David Zieg, a clinical services leader at Mercer, a benefits consultant. It was
Although federal law allows employers to require employees to be vaccinated against influenza, the measure is usually only available at some universities where health care facilities and people live and work closely together. It is done.
Q: What do pharmacies do to encourage vaccination against influenza?
Some pharmacies are doing extra pushes to get out to the community to provide flu vaccinations.
With approximately 9,100 pharmacies nationwide, Walgreens continues its partnership with community organizations, churches and employers, which began in 2015, and has provided approximately 150,000 offsite and mobile flu clinics to date.
Dr. Kevin Bang, Chief Medical Officer of the drugstore chain, said the program places particular emphasis on working with vulnerable people and working in underserved areas.
Walgreens We started to provide influenza vaccination In mid-August, people are encouraged not to delay being vaccinated.
Both Walgreens and CVS encourage people to schedule appointments and manage paperwork online to minimize the amount of time they spend in the store.
At the CVS MinuteClinic location, influenza vaccinated patients must wait outdoors or in the car as the indoor waiting room is closed.
“There aren’t a lot of arrows in the quiver against COVID,” said Ban of Walgreens. “Pressuring the healthcare system by proactively vaccination is one of the things we can do.”
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