With fall upon us, the warm days are numbered and sweater use is on the rise. The change in season brings about the annual flu season all across California in the Northern Hemisphere.
2017-2018's Devastating Flu Season
While practitioners urge patients to get vaccinated it can be a difficult sell to many. Those working primary clinics can attest to the issues faced last year as it was one of the worst flu seasons on record. The vaccine was estimated to be around 40% effective due to a slight strain mutation in the virus used to manufacture the vaccine. It was estimated that in the 2017-2018 season, 80,000 deaths were related to the influenza virus, a considerable amount more than the swine flu epidemic in '09-'10.
A Quick Refresher on Flu Vaccines
When pushing patients to opt for the annual flu vaccine it is imperative to have the elementary facts at hand. A short review of the influenza virus can help convince those patients contemplating the vaccine thus resulting in higher vaccination rates.
A quick refresher for those clinicians stressing the vaccine for their patients: There are two sub-types of epidemic-related flu viruses; Influenza A (H1N1 + H3N2) and Influenza B. Two other, non-epidemic variations are Inz C, which can cause respiratory illness and the lesser unknown Inz D, that can be seen in cattle.
When picking a strain, it is important to realize that it is done about six months prior to the flu season as time is needed for manufacturing the vaccine. The FDA often looks to South Africa and Australia to see their trends in which virus is prominent since the flu season is in the opposite months in the Southern Hemisphere.
It''s recommended that children should always be getting a vaccination.
Flu Vaccine 2019 Outlook
The outlook for this year's vaccine looks promising. The strain chosen for this year's vaccine was given the green light for production in March. Experts predict it will be a year with H1N1 prominence that, at this time, has not shown to have severe mutations as did last year's viral strain. Recommendations have not changed and continue to emphasize use in high risk groups such as the elderly, children, healthcare workers and also individuals who have chronic illnesses such as asthma, heart disease, and diabetes. Healthy adults are less susceptible but the vaccine can be effective in decreasing the amount of influenza-related symptoms experienced in the general population.
This is the second installment of “Relevant Refreshers” by Horizon Revenue Solutions. We strive to enhance the viability of clinical practices but also want to offer a change of pace in our relationship with the clinics we serve by providing short reads that are relevant to a clinical practice. If you're looking for a partner that you can count on for your private medical practice, give us a call at (408) 444-8845, or simply contact us at www.horizonrevenuesolutions.com. We can make in-person visits across all locations in Northern California from San Jose, San Francisco, and Sacramento.
- Shaunveer Chima, MD