Influenza & Vaccinations in the Land of COVID-19
On September 30, 2020 by Kari Everson
Fall signals many wonderful traditions and memories such as pumpkin spice, cozy sweaters, crackling fires, spectacular views of changing leaves . . . and influenza vaccines!
Minnesota’s long-term care providers have excellent flu vaccination rates and continue to promote the importance of influenza vaccines for our residents and staff. The need for protection from influenza continues and is heighted in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. To date there are only a handful of reports and medical studies analyzing the outcomes to those who suffer from co-infection of influenza and COVID. In that small sample many ended up in intensive care units. While there is little definitive evidence at this time that co-infection with influenza and COVID-19 causes more severe disease, many esteemed state and national experts speculate this will likely be the outcome.
The flu vaccine development this year is no different than in years passed. The four strains of influenza utilized in the vaccine were determined in March and the vaccine is ready for distribution. Influenza vaccine takes on additional importance this year. With an already burdened health care system from COVID-19, decreasing influenza cases will reduce further strain across our healthcare system. Testing reagents for influenza are the same used for COVID PCR testing; therefore, reducing flu infections will also reduce demand for testing supplies.
As a result of the increased positive impact of flu vaccinations in healthcare settings and in public health outcomes, more flu vaccine is available than ever before. Manufacturers of flu vaccines project they will provide as many as 194 to 198 million doses of influenza vaccine in the U.S. market.
The Minnesota Department of Health published the 2020-21 Minnesota Fall Flu Guide which includes resources for providers who vaccinate for influenza, summarizes the season’s influenza vaccination recommendations, provides tips on vaccine administration, storage and handling, and includes FAQ’s. If you haven’t already done so, it’s time to contact your pharmacies to order vaccine or contact vendors to set up vaccination clinics to work toward a safer flu season for residents and healthcare workers. The following are some helpful CDC & MDH Influenza Resource Links:
- MDH Influenza Vaccine Information for Health Professionals Website
- MDH Long-Term Care Influenza Page
- VIS – Vaccination Information Statement
- CDC: MMWR Prevention & Control of Seasonal Influenza with Vaccines: Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices – United States, 2020-2021 Influenza Season
- CDC – Vaccination Guidance During a Pandemic
- CDC FAQ – Flu & COVID
- CDC - Interim Guidance for Influenza Outbreak Management in Long-Term Care