From Our Clinical Pharmacy Team - Everyone living with a chronic condition, and everyone who loves someone with one, has been paying close attention to the news about Coronavirus. It’s alarming, pervasive and headline grabbing. At the same time we have to ask if the dire predictions about Coronavirus here in the US overshadow a more pressing concern. While more than 360 deaths globally have been attributed to the Coronavirus, there is another virus that has already infected more than 15 million people in the US, led to 140,000 hospitalizations and claimed more than 8,200 lives (ContagionLive, Jan. 29, 2020). It’s the influenza virus.
So if we are looking beyond the headlines into the most important lifesaving choices for people living with chronic illnesses, we must look at flu prevention. Fortunately, the rules for flu prevention apply to Coronavirus too.
The CDC does not have estimates on flu vaccine effectiveness for the 2019-20 US flu season. But flu vaccination has historically been the best way to protect against the flu and associated complications. So please, please check with your doctor about the flu vaccine and your chronic condition, and go get a flu shot if s/he recommends it and you haven't had one already. Many insurance providers cover flu vaccines with $0 out-of-pocket cost. There is no vaccine for Coronavirus right now, so prevention is our best way forward.
The CDC ads that antiviral medications are critical for flu control. In the 2019-2020 flu season, nearly all tested influenza viruses have been susceptible to the 4 FDA-approved antiviral medications for influenza. If your chronic condition makes you particularly vulnerable to the flu, please check with your healthcare provider about antiviral medications.
A flu and Coronavirus prevention guide has been prepared by the Shields Clinical Pharmacy team and can be downloaded by clicking this link. They are words to live by during the flu season. We wish you and your loved ones a healthy 2020!