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How to Avoid a "Twindemic" this Flu Season

The beginning of flu season can be a concern for many people. But this year there is a scenario that is even more concerning: a severe flu season combined with the current pandemic, resulting in a “twindemic.”

cartoon: Come Play with Us twindemic (The Shining)

Even a mild flu season could stagger hospitals already coping with COVID-19 cases. And though officials don’t know yet what degree of severity to anticipate this year, they are worried large numbers of people could forgo flu shots, increasing the risk of widespread outbreaks.

The concern about a twindemic is so great that officials around the world were pushing the flu shot even before it became available in clinics and doctors’ offices. Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been talking it up, urging corporate leaders to figure out ways to inoculate employees. The CDC usually purchases 500,000 doses for uninsured adults but this year ordered an additional 9.3 million doses.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has been imploring people to get the flu shot, “so that you could at least blunt the effect of one of those two potential respiratory infections.”

The flu vaccine is rarely mandated in the U.S. except by some health care facilities and nursery schools, but this year you may see that changing. The University of California system announced that because of the pandemic, it is requiring all 230,000 employees and 280,000 students to get the flu vaccine by November 1.

A life-threatening respiratory illness that crowds emergency rooms and intensive care units, flu shares symptoms with COVID-19: fever, headache, cough, sore throat, muscle aches, and fatigue. Flu can leave patients vulnerable to a harsher attack of Covid-19, doctors believe, and that coming down with both viruses at once could be disastrous.

The 2019-20 flu season in the United States was mild, according to the CDC But a mild flu season still takes a toll. In preliminary estimates, the CDC says that cases ranged from 39 million to 56 million, resulting in up to 740,000 hospitalizations and from 24,000 to 62,000 flu-related deaths.

According to the C.D.C., flu season occurs in the fall and winter, peaking from December to February and so was nearing its end as the pandemic began to flare in the United States in March.

But now, fighting flu proactively during the continuing pandemic presents significant challenges: not only how to administer the shot safely and readily but also how to prompt people to get a shot that many Americans have typically distrusted, dismissed, and skipped.

Individuals at high risk of serious com-plications from the flu include adults 65 years and older, pregnant women, young children, and individuals with chronic health conditions including asthma, cardiovascular disease, HIV/AIDs, and cancer. Most of these are also risk factors for severe Covid-19 complications, making flu vaccination especially critical this season.

With many places where the flu shot has been administered en masse now inaccessible — including doctors’ offices and plants and schools that offered it to employees and students on site — we are excited to be able to offer the influenza vaccination at Norland Avenue Pharmacy anytime during regular business hours. In the past, we only immunized patients 18 years of age and older. However, in order to help with the demand this year, we have expanded our offering to patients 9 years of age and older.

To ensure optimal protection, be sure to get your flu vaccination before the end of October. Be aware: it takes about two weeks after administration for the vaccine to become fully effective.

To save time in the store, download and print the Immunization Questionnaire & Consent Form from our website. Bringing the completed form with you will speed the process and limit the time you spend in the pharmacy. If you don’t have a way to access the form from home, we will happily provide a hard copy when you get to the pharmacy.

Another way to save time at the pharmacy would be to schedule an appointment for your flu shot. While we do offer vaccinations on a walk-in basis, having an appointment does allow us to prepare in advance for your arrival.

Once again, we will have both quadrivalent and high dose influenza vaccinations available. If applicable, we will attempt to bill your insurance. Many insurances will cover 100% of the cost.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding the influenza vaccination, please don’t hesitate to give us a call. We are here to help!

*These statements are culmination of the knowledge and experience of the team at Norland Pharmacy. The information provided here is for informational purposes only. Please consult your healthcare provider with questions concerning any medical condition or treatment. Compounded medications are not reviewed by the FDA for safety or efficacy. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration, and this product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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