Organization argues vaccination will reduce flu burden, save health care resources

CHICAGO—The American Medical Association (AMA) released a statement to strongly suggest that everyone in the U.S. older than six months get their flu vaccine to help blunt the impact of the simultaneous 2020-21 flu season and ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

“Just as wearing a mask helps prevent the spread of SARS-CoV-2, getting the flu vaccine helps prevent individuals from becoming ill, as well as prevents further spread to others. Vaccines bolster the health of communities as some people cannot be vaccinated—including very young children, cancer patients and those who are immunosuppressed,” the AMA argued. “When immunization rates are high, people in these categories are protected because they’re less likely to be exposed to the disease.”

The AMA called flu vaccination “part of a comprehensive public health strategy to reduce the burden of flu in the population and to preserve scarce health care resources as we continue to respond to the pandemic.” However, the organization also acknowledged that the pandemic could potentially impact when, where, and how people get their flu vaccine.

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has developed guidance to help physicians administer vaccinations during the pandemic to ensure patient safety,” the AMA explained. “For patients going to their physician, they will find offices reorganized to protect patients from Covid-19. The pandemic has prompted physicians to modify how they operate safely while continuing to provide patients with essential services. There may be fewer appointments available as offices are disinfecting between patients and making sure patients are not intermingling.”

The AMA also pointed out that people who are used to receiving their flu shot at work might not have that option, as many organizations are still working from home. Patients in this group might need to resort to drop-in clinics or discuss with their physician the best way to receive their vaccine. The CDC made an online tool to assist patients looking for somewhere to get vaccinated.

“Flu activity increases in October and most often peaks between December and February—and can last as late as May,” the organization added. “While fall is the ideal time to get the flu vaccine, it’s never too late.”

“We need to realize that we are all interconnected, said AMA President Susan R. Bailey, MD, in a statement, “and during this pandemic, getting vaccinated is a step to protect our individual and collective health.”

John McKenna, Associate Editor, BreakingMED™

Cat ID: 30

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