LMS President’s Message, September, 2020
Encourage Getting the Flu Vaccine
By Mamata Majmundar, MD
The fall season is rapidly approaching with schools reopening and our Covid-19 pandemic will be colliding with influenza. The total impact these two viruses will have is unknown except these illnesses affect our most vulnerable citizens. I encourage you to educate your patients, friends, and family to receive flu vaccine coverage in addition to the preventive measures for our current pandemic with social distancing, hand washing, and facial coverings.
The CDC recommends everyone 6 months of age and older get vaccinated every flu season. Children 6 months through 8 years of age may need 2 doses during a single flu season. Everyone else needs only 1 dose each flu season. It takes about 2 weeks for protection to develop after vaccination. It is estimated approximately 45.5% of adults received flu vaccine coverage during the 2018-2019 season in the United States. Nationally, 24,000-62,000 people died from the flu from October 1st, 2019 – April 4, 2020, according to the CDC. The 2019-2020 flu season in Lexington consisted of 742 lab confirmed cases and 3 flu related deaths. A recently published study, the CDC estimated that increasing coverage by five percentage points could have prevented another 4000 to 11000 hospitalizations, depending on the severity of the season.
The influenza vaccine can be offered during routine health visits, hospitalization visits, and throughout the entire flu season. The Lexington Fayette County Health Department’s annual free flu shot event will be held October 3rd, with the time/location to be announced in the near future with plans in place to ensure proper guidelines are followed with respect to Covid-19.
Our first Kentucky case of Covid-19 in March was near the end of the flu season, the public health team, health systems, and healthcare providers have been working together to navigate this new illness. We enter the 2020-2021 flu season with six months more knowledge about COVID-19 than the previous flu season. We have learned the effectiveness of social distancing, hand washing, and wearing a mask. Let us encourage our patients, family, and friends to get the flu vaccine as we enter the flu season while continuing to deal with COVID-19.
 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2019-2020 U.S. Flu Season: Preliminary Burden Estimates, Retrieved August 28, 2020 from CDC website: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/burden/preliminary-in-season-estimates.htm