Providers: 2010 Flu Season is Upon Us
By Ronald A. Charles MD MHA FACE FACHE
Vice President, Medical Affairs
Buckeye Community Health Plan
Fall is once again upon us, and that means back-to-school, cooler weather, and autumn leaves. For physicians, it is time to prepare for the flu season. Traditionally, that meant family physicians and internists had to ensure they encouraged their patients over age 65 and those with certain chronic diseases to get a flu vaccine.
Vaccination decreases the chances of someone getting the flu, diminishes the severity and duration of illness if someone gets it, or decreases the chances of a person getting a complication of the flu, such as a secondary pneumonia. New recommendations on who should receive the flu vaccine and what type of vaccine they should get have been made, and they will affect all physicians.
The CDC and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) have finalized new recommendations for flu vaccine administration. These recommendations are updated every year. The recommendations for the 2010-2011 season are very simple: Everyone over the age of 6 months should be vaccinated.
Buckeye Community Health Plan fully supports these recommendations and is willing to support physicians in this effort. Our care management staff will be reinforcing the fact that certain high-risk patients who should receive flu immunizations do so. This includes groups who are at high risk for flu complications such as children 6 months to 5 years, adults >65 years of age, pregnant women and those planning on pregnancy during the flu season, and those with chronic cardiopulmonary disease and the immunocompromised.
One new change in vaccination administration is that for the 2010-2011 season, there will be one vaccine containing three flu strains. The new vaccine will contain the H3N2, influenza B, and H1N1 viruses. Only one dose of the vaccine will be needed. Flu vaccinations can be given in the office or available to patients through local health departments and pharmacies.
We will be launching a telephonic campaign, mailings to patients, and collaborating with Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) and large rural multi-specialty practices. Our goal is to work with physicians to ensure that this flu season will not be a burdensome one to your practices and the healthcare system.
Information is available at CDC’s influenza website, including any updates or supplements to these recommendations that might be required during the 2010-11 influenza season. Vaccination and health-care providers should be alert to announcements of recommendation updates and should check the CDC influenza website periodically for additional information.