Flu season arrives early this year
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the flu season has arrived earlier than usual, seeing a spike in cases over the last two weeks. Though the number of cases varies from season to season, the flu can be severe enough to hospitalize up to 200,000 people in one season. The CDC also reports that the influenza-like-illness (ILI) activity levels reached the baseline level nationally the week of Nov. 24, 2012, almost four months earlier than last flu season. Texas is among one of the five states reporting the highest ILI activity.
Family Practice News says that the dominant flu strain this season is influenza A(H3N2), sometimes linked to worse than usual flu seasons, but the vaccine being used this year is a 90 percent match for the specimens being sent to the CDC.
Because of the high number of cases already being treated, Acting Director of CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases Melinda Wharton, M.D., M.P.H., calls the flu activity a “wake-up call,” urging people to get vaccinated as quickly as possible.
Sanofi Pasteur, a large vaccine manufacturer, is currently publicizing its free flu vaccine program for family physicians. It is currently making an extra amount of its FDA-approved Fluzone Intradermal vaccine be free of charge for family physicians who administer the vaccine to patients without health insurance who cannot afford it and waive their administration fee.
This specific vaccine is designated for patients 18-64 years and ships in a prefilled syringe. The company prefers a minimum order of 100 doses, and while a large number has been made available, they are expected to run out quickly, so they advise physicians to place orders as soon as possible. For more information regarding orders, view this AAFP News Now story.
Also keep in mind that Atlantic Health Partners provides TAFP members with the lowest prices on numerous vaccines, including flu products. We encourage you to contact them to see how they can benefit your practice. You can reach Jeff or Cindy at (800) 741-2044 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to tell them you are a TAFP member.