“Physicians already know all too well the burdens and harm that can occur when insurance company impose prior authorization requirements,” TMA President Diana L. Fite, MD, said. “Our lawmakers need to do more to make sure our patients get the medicines, tests, and treatments that they need, when they need it.”
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This piece was originally published in the January/February issue of the Tarrant County Physician. You can read find the full magazine here.
In the midst of the worst pandemic in over a hundred years, it’s easy to overlook vaccine-preventable seasonal influenza.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as of December 28, 2020, COVID-19 has already accounted for 336,761 deaths and 19,297,396 cases in the U.S. since its first appearance in early 2020. Tarrant County has reported more than 135,793 confirmed cases (TCPH data) and 1,425 deaths so far (https://covid.cdc.gov.covid-data-tracker). The current percent positivity (percent positive tests/all tests performed) for Tarrant County is a staggering 17 percent (also from CDC COVID Data Tracker).1
For reference, the 1918 influenza pandemic is reported to have killed 21,000,000 people including 549,000 Americans.2
Our most recent prior pandemic, the influenza experience between April 2009 and April 2010, H1N1pdm09, accounted for 60.8 million U.S. cases, 274,304 hospitalizations, and 12,469 U.S. deaths. H1N1 continues to circulate and is still included in the seasonal flu vaccine. A monovalent vaccination produced in response to the H1N1pdm09 pandemic after this strain emerged in 4/2009 wasn’t distributed widely until 11/2009.3
H1N1pdm09 was unique in causing more severe outcomes in younger persons. Approximately 30 percent of persons over 60 in 2009 were thought to have some immunity to H1N1pdm09 conferred by exposure in the past to another H1N1 strain.
As we make our way through the 2020-2021 flu season while in the throes of the highly politicized COVID-19 pandemic, how will we fare at vaccinating Americans against seasonal flu, and will flu vaccination rates provide some hint at public acceptance of, or enthusiasm for, COVID-19 vaccines?
According the CDC’s FluVaxView, during the 2019-2020 flu season, 80.6 percent of healthcare personnel received flu vaccines, with 94.4 percent vaccination in healthcare settings which required it and 69.6 percent in healthcare settings which did not make it mandatory.4
In the U.S., for the 2019-2020 flu season, CDC Influenza data are still preliminary but provide a range in numbers of influenza cases from 39,000,000 to 56,000,000, flu medical visits from 18,000,000 to 26,000,000, flu hospitalizations from 410,000 to 740,000, and flu deaths from 24,000 to 62,000. Even using the highest estimate for flu deaths from last season, COVID-19 deaths have already quadrupled the total number of flu deaths last season (https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/burden/past-seasons.html).5
However, according to Flu Surv-NET (the Influenza Hospitalization Surveillance Network), the number of influenza-associated hospitalizations from 10/01/2020 to 12/05/2020 only totals 61 in the U.S. thus far (compared with prior seasons this is an unseasonably low number). There is not yet efficacy data for the 2020-2021 seasonal influenza vaccine because of low case counts so far, but most influenza experts expect a mild flu season due to COVID-19 practices of masking, social distancing, hand sanitization, and cough and sneeze hygiene.
As communities struggle to control the catastrophic consequences of COVID-19, getting our flu vaccines and encouraging all of our eligible patients to do the same demonstrates leadership and concern for the most vulnerable among those we serve. Discussing the flu vaccine with our patients also offers context for discussing the COVID-19 vaccines.
For residents in West Fort Worth are still affected by boil water notices, as well as others who might be experiencing water shutoffs because of water main breaks and repairs, here is some information about water resources in Tarrant County.
The below locations and times are for Monday. Be aware that water may run out before closing time.
All locations will have bottled water as well as water to fill containers.
They include four locations that will operate hand out water from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Those locations include:
Beth Eden Baptist Church, 3208 Wilbarger St., 76119
RD Evans Community Center, 3242 Lackland Road, 76116.
Sycamore Community Center, 2525 E. Rosedale St., 76105.
Open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. is Birchman Baptist Church, 9100 N. Normandale St., 76116.
Disclaimer: Water is being provided to you by the City of Fort Worth in a disaster-recovery situation. It is the responsibility of the individual to ensure that containers being used for water collection are clean, free of contaminates and are a proper water storage container. The City of Fort Worth will not inspect the containers and will not accept responsibility for illness or other any damages that occurs from the service.
In addition to the city-operated sites, some breweries are offering water to residents. Please call to confirm hours.
CowTown Brewery, 1301 E Belknap St., (817) 489-5800
Panther Island Brewing, 501 N Main St., (817) 882-8121
Hop Fusion Ale Works, 200 E Broadway Ave., (682) 841-1721
Wild Acre Brewing, 1734 E El Paso St., (817) 882-9453
Resident need to bring their own containers for all breweries.
The Water Department realizes many affected customers have no water to boil and others have no power to boil the water. They are working to secure additional water for distribution as quickly as possible. Additional locations will be added. Continue to check the city’s website for updates. You can also call 817-392-1234 for additional water distribution locations; because supplies are limited, each household is limited to one case.