Provider Alert! This season a flu vaccine is more important than ever

Provider Alert!

Provider Alert! This season a flu vaccine is more important than ever

Attention: Primary Care Providers

Flu season is upon us and while it’s not possible to say for certain what will happen this fall and winter, CDC believes it’s likely that flu viruses and the virus that causes COVID-19 will be spreading. For this reason, it’s more important than ever we vaccinate ourselves and our patients to avoid serious complications from the flu and to prevent unnecessary medical visits and hospitalizations, which further strain the healthcare system.

Every person 6 months and older should be vaccinated with any licensed, age-appropriate flu vaccine (IIV, RIV4, or LAIV4) with no preference expressed or any one vaccine over the other.  To best protect yourself and others, the CDC recommends to receive the vaccine before the end of October. For a list of this seasons available flu vaccines and corresponding indications please visit: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/professionals/acip/2020-2021/acip-table.htm

To help ensure the safe delivery of care during vaccination visits, providers should:

  • Ensure staff have the correct personal protective equipment (PPE).
    • Intranasal and oral vaccines- healthcare providers should wear gloves because of increased likelihood of coming into contact with a patient’s mucous membranes and body fluids. Gloves should be changed between patients in addition to performing hand hygiene.
    • Intramuscular or subcutaneous vaccines- if gloves are worn they should be changed between patients in addition to performing hand hygiene.
    • Administration of these vaccines is not considered an aerosol-generating procedure and thus, the use of an N95 or higher-level respirator is not recommended.
  • Minimize chances for exposures, including:
    • Screen for symptoms of COVID-19 and contact with persons with possible COVID-19 prior to and upon arrival at the facility.
    • Limit and monitor points of entry to the facility and install barriers, such as clear plastic sneeze guards, to limit physical contact with patients at triage.
    • Implement policies for the use of a cloth face covering in persons over the age of 2 years (if tolerated).
    • Ensure adherence to respiratory hygiene, cough etiquette, and hand hygiene.
  • Ensure physical distancing by implementing strategies, such as:
    • Separating sick from well patients by scheduling these visits during different times of the day, placing patients with sick visits in different areas of the facility, or scheduling patients with sick visits in a different location from well visits (when available).
    • Reduce crowding in waiting areas by asking patients to remain outside until they are called into the facility for their appointment.
    • Ensure that physical distancing measures, with separation of at least 6 feet between patients and visitors, are maintained during all aspects of the visit
    • Utilize electronic communications as much as possible (e.g., filling out needed paperwork online in advance) to minimize time in the office as well as reuse of materials (e.g., clipboards, pens).

Influenza vaccines are available free-of-charge to enrolled providers through the Texas Vaccines for Children (TVFC) program for STAR, STAR Kids, and CHIP members birth through 18 years of age. Remind your Texas Children’s Health Plan patients that the influenza vaccine is a covered benefit. Texas Children’s Health Plan members who are age 7 years and older can also receive the influenza vaccine at a participating pharmacy. For a list of pharmacies, please visit https://www.texaschildrenshealthplan.org/for-members/star/pharmacy-directories

If you have any questions, please email Provider Network Management at: providerrelations@texaschildrens.org.

For access to all provider alerts, log into:
www.thecheckup.org or www.texaschildrenshealthplan.org/for-providers.

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