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Austin doctors are paying attention to the flu surge after vacation, despite the late start of the season

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When the coronavirus pandemic first struck the Austin area in early spring, local doctor Ryan Charvenor said he and his colleagues began to worry about the annual flu season coming nine months later.

“When we first started to understand what we were dealing with in COVID-19, we realized that it didn’t go anywhere. What happened when the flu came here at the time? There was a lot of collective anxiety about what would happen, “said Charvenor.

Since then, local health care professionals and other authorities have met regularly to begin planning the flu season, said Charvenor, chief medical officer at the St. Day Biz North Austin Medical Center. Charvenor is cautiously optimistic about the coming months, as early numbers for the flu season are now coming and it is clear how the general public can prevent widespread hospitalization of coronavirus and flu at the same time. He said he felt it.

“I’m pretty confident that the flu won’t be a problem this year,” he said.

Still, St. David’s official spoke with other local medical professionals Community Impact NewspaperPlease note that the public needs to be vigilant to prevent the flu from becoming a widespread problem.

Now that the holiday season is in full swing and the number of cases of coronavirus nationwide reached a record high in November, there is still the possibility that the medical system will be overwhelmed by the simultaneous hospitalization of coronavirus and influenza.

“If we [COVID-19] The surge they are seeing in El Paso, Wisconsin, or Italy … we could have problems, “Charbeneau said.

The flu season begins late

Texas’s 2020 flu season has begun to stagnate compared to the past few years, state figures show.

A total of 89 Texas people were diagnosed with the flu in the week leading up to November 7, according to the Texas Department of Health. This is the lowest number of cases in the first 6 weeks of the report for at least 6 years. As of this time last year, 396 cases were reported. Although more influenza tests were reported last year, the positive rate of this year’s tests (0.98%) remains much lower than at this point last year (3.43%).

Although the number of influenza cases remains low, DSHS states that the majority of Texas influenza cases are not reported by law. DSHS data includes cases of influenza reported only to public health agencies. There are several possible reasons for the significant decline in confirmed cases as this year’s flu season begins in Texas.

Precautionary measures taken to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, such as increasing social distance, masking, and wearing gloves, are also effective in combating the spread of the flu.

In addition, more and more people in Austin are seeking flu shots.

The Austin Regional Clinic reported a 43.54% increase in influenza vaccinations given between August and October compared to last year, according to the data provided below. Community Impact Newspaper..

Dr. Manish Naik, Chief Medical Information Officer at ARC, said: “There is definitely a significant increase in the number of people coming for vaccination.” I think people are more worried and cautious thanks to COVID-19. “ARC worries about entering the waiting room this year. We have launched a new drive-through vaccination service for our patients. Since launching this service, approximately 12% of ARC influenza vaccinations have been through drive-throughs.

The October 31st community event, hosted by Sendero Health Plans, Austin Public Health, Austin ISD, and other community partners, delivered 200 flu shots in just three hours, said Rudy Ybarra, director of business development at Sendero. Mr. says. “There was demand. People were lined up before the event started,” Ibara said.

Central Health-funded non-profit healthcare insurance company Sendero may have stood at the event and not received 700 COVID-19 prevention kits, including masks, disinfectants, and healthcare information brochures. It was distributed to all participants, including family members and volunteers. Influenza vaccination. Mary Carroll Jennings, who joined Sendero as Chief Health Officer in August, said these resources could help strengthen disease prevention efforts in Austin.

“We hope that the special attention we put into better behavior from the pandemic will have a secondary impact on influenza cases,” Jennings said.

So far, it seems to work. By the first week of November, there were less than 12 positive influenza cases across Travis County, according to a weekly influenza report from APH.

Concerns about a surge in holidays

Influenza cases remain low across regions and states, but there are warnings among healthcare professionals that bumps may occur after the next vacation. Of greatest concern is the potential for uplift when coronavirus cases peak after a record number of cases in the United States.

According to DSHS data, influenza cases identified last year increased by 24.54% the week after Thanksgiving and again 31.56% the week after Christmas. The flu spreads like the coronavirus, and according to Nike, the flu spreads like the coronavirus and spends a lot of time with each other in closed areas. As students return home from college campuses and families travel to spend vacations with each other, there are more opportunities to spread the flu and COVID-19.

“If both of these virus infections see an rise at the same time, it can be a challenge,” Nike said. “If people are really good at masking, keeping distance, and keeping meetings small, I think the impact will be small.”

Influenza and coronavirus cases can peak locally at the same time. APH on November 14 reported 300 new cases of coronavirus. This is the highest number of cases per day since mid-August. On November 13, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced a record number of new daily cases (more than 181,000) nationwide. Hospitalization is rising as well.

According to Charvenor, competing local hospital systems are in daily contact with each other and with local health authorities to manage case roads, but when the system is overwhelmed, the Austin Convention Center becomes a field hospital. It may lead to a scenario that will be opened. Healthcare professionals in other parts of the country may need to travel to Austin to help manage case roads, just as Austin is currently sending nurses and doctors to locations like El Paso. There is, Mr. Charvenor added.

“Fatigue subsides. You need to be careful with the support of your medical staff. Caring for people dying from illness is a daunting task,” he said.

Fight the flu

According to Nik, individuals in Central Texas can keep low rates of influenza cases and infections in the area with a single simple action of vaccination against the flu. Vaccination does not completely guarantee the prevention of influenza, but it greatly reduces the chances of getting the patient infected. Virus throughout the flu season. Nike said flu vaccination is doubly important this year as it helps prevent severe flu.

“The flu vaccine greatly reduces the chances of someone getting very ill or hospitalized for the flu,” Nike said.

If the number of cases of coronavirus continues to grow, the support of the community may be needed. As of November 14, more than 20,000 Texas people had died of COVID-19-related complications, according to Johns Hopkins University. This is 68% more than the death toll in the 2017-18 flu season and is the most deadly in Texas for at least six years. Keeping hospital beds open and reducing the number of patients can help maintain a high level of care for at-risk coronavirus patients. I am hospitalized. Vaccination with the flu vaccine this year could help achieve that goal, Jennings said.

“It’s an individual decision, but for those who don’t usually get the flu vaccine, I hope they rethink what we’re doing this year,” Jennings said.

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