To combat Covid-19 and influenza, common vaccine clinics are being set up

But this year, many will offer some extra-Covid-19 shots.

As the Delta variant spreads and uncertainty hangs over what the flu season can bring, joint vaccine clinics have sprung up in cities and counties nationwide to offer a one-stop choice to either receive a Covid-19 vaccination, flu shot or both.

Last week, the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences opened a new vaccine clinic in Little Rock to deliver both Covid-19 and flu vaccines to students, staff or anyone in the community.

“We are trying, as much as we can, to meet the needs of both influenza prevention and prevention of Covid-19, and as you know, Arkansas’ vaccination rates for Covid are not in any way we would like to see them,” Hopkins said.

“If someone comes and wants the flu vaccine and they have not had a Covid vaccine, we can encourage them to get both or vice versa,” he said. “If they come in and want the Covid vaccine and they have not had the flu vaccine and we can encourage them to do both, we will potentially have a greater impact on both disease prevention efforts.”

Between flu and Covid-19, winter can be complicated '
Also last week, a joint Covid-19 and influenza vaccination clinic appeared in Lumberton, North Carolina.
Robeson Community College hosted the clinic on Wednesday in partnership with Walgreens to administer Covid-19 shots and flu shots to students, faculty, staff and the general public.
The college has signed up with the White House and the U.S. Department of Education to be a “vaccine master” by providing vaccines to students and the community — and has so far helped vaccinate more than 200 people against Covid-19 through clinics on its campus. Robeson County has some of the lowest vaccination rates in North Carolina, Melissa Singler, president of Robeson Community College, wrote in an email to CNN.
Robeson Community College President Melissa Singler receives the flu vaccination at the joint Covid-19 / influenza clinic held at the college.

“We felt it was right to run a joint vaccination clinic for both COVID-19 and influenza,” Singler wrote in the email, adding that the clinic is the first offered by the college for both the Covid-19 vaccine and flu shot.

“Vaccinations are critical in the new school year to help us avoid interruptions,” Singler wrote. “There has been an expectation that the flu would be worse this year than last year, but our county is at a critical stage with COVID-19 transmission rates at record levels, so it has been our main focus in preventing outbreaks and clusters. . “

In several cities and counties across the country, there have been talks about planning flu shot events with Covid-19 vaccine clinics to help get people vaccinated against both flu and coronavirus.

‘Clinics happen’

“This is a major area of ​​concern for our healthcare departments, who continue to be concerned about the recurrence of influenza with the pandemic again – and whether we should create influenza and vaccine clinics together to try to get people protected as much as possible,” said Lori Tremmel Freeman, CEO of National Association of County and City Health Officials, told CNN.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics have both said that people can receive their flu shots at the same time as a Covid-19 vaccine.
The coming flu season could be serious.  Here's why

“There is concern about how we are going to cope with the flu season on top of the pandemic, especially for school-age children,” Freeman said.

“The thing about seasonal flu is that you never know what you’ll get with the flu season. You never know what type of flu,” Freeman said. “Will it be a particularly harmful flu that affects certain populations? The last thing we need is another severe flu that can affect certain groups of the population, such as the elderly or children, differently.”

To make vaccinations convenient for children, some schools have long served as sites for flu shot clinics – and in many schools across the country, clinics have begun working, Linda Mendonca, president of the National Association of School Nurses, told CNN.

“We always prepare for the flu season every year. So school nurses are committed to coordinating the school-located vaccine clinics in their school community,” Mendonca said, adding that joint flu management clinics and Covid-19 vaccines “make sense.”

“We are certainly promoting vaccines as a way to reduce the risk of disease or viruses that can be prevented, such as the flu,” Mendonca said. “Clinics are happening.”

Still, it is still unclear whether the upcoming flu season may be particularly harsh – or almost non-existent, as it was last year.

What the flu season can bring

“It is well known that the flu is unpredictable. We have some clues as to what to expect each year based on what is happening in the southern hemisphere and what has happened in other countries during the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said. Dr. Flor Munoz, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Texas Children’s Hospital, told CNN.
“I don’t think we were very surprised not to see flu activity last year, because that’s exactly what happened in countries in the southern hemisphere,” Munoz said. “There has still been very little flu in the southern hemisphere this year. It was another mild winter season in the southern hemisphere where there was not typically high influenza activity. But what we see in the United States is that there has been an activity. at a low level that began towards the end of the summer, which is unusual. ”
Since there were relatively few flu cases last year, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health have in a pre-printed paper predicted that there will be a “major compensatory” flu season this year. The paper, which is not published in a peer-reviewed journal, was sent to the medrxiv.org server last month.

A model based on previous flu seasons projects in the newspaper that there may be 102,000 additional admissions in the coming season due to influenza diseases, which corresponds to an increase of 20% compared to the average number of admissions in the last flu seasons. Researchers predict that some people may have declining immunity due to low influenza levels that circulated last year.

“However, a higher uptake of influenza vaccine would reduce this expected increase in influenza,” the researchers wrote in their paper.

‘This year the situation could be dangerously different’

The American College of Emergency Physicians issued a statement Thursday that there are “early signs” that the upcoming flu season may be serious and recommend everyone eligible to be vaccinated against Covid-19 and the flu.

“Last year, more people stayed home and covered their faces when they went out, the flu rate historically low, but this year the situation may be dangerously different,” said Dr. Mark Rosenberg, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians, in the statement.

“Unfortunately, disinformation is rampant, and the risk of getting or spreading either virus increases as more people reject documented public health protocols,” Rosenberg said. “We should take all precautions to protect ourselves and our loved ones from any virus. Getting vaccinated is one of the best ways to avoid double flu and COVID.”

Dr. David Cennimo, a specialist in infectious disease at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, said in a press release that a “twin demic” of Covid-19 and flu is “very possible” this year.
Respiratory infections other than Covid-19 fill pediatric wards

“Based on what we are currently seeing for other respiratory infections, such as respiratory syncytial virus returning with revenge, I expect that we will see a resurgence of influenza of above average this year,” Cennimo said in the press release.

“This is another reason why influenza and COVID-19 vaccinations are so important. Although cases have been rare, one can be infected with COVID-19 and influenza at the same time, which can result in a much worse condition. On the health side, one has both “Circulatory viruses make diagnosis difficult. If you get the flu, you will have to be quarantined and tested to rule out COVID-19,” he said.

“This underscores the importance of children under the age of 12 who are not yet able to receive the COVID-19 vaccine receiving the flu vaccine. awaiting a correct diagnosis. “

Doctors recommend flu shot by Halloween

Pediatricians recommend that both adults and children 6 months and older receive their flu vaccinations before Halloween, no matter what the flu season may look like.

“It is already available so you can be vaccinated immediately now and ideally before the end of October whenever possible,” said Munoz, author of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendations for influenza prevention and control.

“It is important to be able to prevent one of the infections that cause pneumonia – similar to Covid – especially in young children, because we still do not have the vaccine for Covid for that age group,” Munoz said, adding that for unvaccinated people there is a potential risk of becoming infected with both influenza and coronavirus.

“It seems that coinfection with Covid and other respiratory viruses, rhinovirus or RSV and Covid, for example, is common,” Munoz said. “Having two viruses at the same time brings young children into the hospital because they can develop viral pneumonia or complications from these infections.”

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