Provider Alert! Encourage Members to Protect Themselves Against the Flu
Date: October 27, 2023
Attention: All Providers
Attention Primary Care Providers:
With ongoing cases of highly contagious respiratory illnesses, it is important to remind patients to protect themselves and their families by getting routine vaccinations. This can help prevent unnecessary medical visits and hospitalizations that continue to put a strain in our healthcare systems. Getting vaccinated for the flu and COVID-19 can prevent the spread of the disease.
Every person 6 months and older should be vaccinated with any licensed, age-appropriate flu vaccine with no preference expressed or any one vaccine over the other. To best protect yourself and others, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends receiving the vaccine now, if you have not already done so. For more information and a list of this season’s available flu vaccines, please visit: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/season/index.html
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.
- 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 on their cell phone 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).
When speaking with your patients about the flu vaccine, the SHARE recommendation found on the CDC Influenza (Flu) webpage can be used to structure the conversation:
- SHARE the reasons why an influenza vaccine is right for the patient given his or her age, health status, lifestyle, occupation, or other risk factors.
- HIGHLIGHT positive experiences with influenza vaccines (personal or in your practice), as appropriate, to reinforce the benefits and strengthen confidence in influenza vaccination.
- ADDRESS patient questions and any concerns about influenza vaccines, including side effects, safety, and vaccine effectiveness in plain and understandable language. Acknowledge that while people who get an influenza vaccine may still get sick, there are studies that show that illness may be less severe.
- REMIND patients that influenza vaccines help protect them and their loved ones from serious influenza illness and complications that can result in hospitalization or even death for some people.
- EXPLAIN the potential costs of getting influenza, including potential serious health effects for the patient, time lost (such as missing work or family obligations), financial costs, and potentially spreading influenza to more vulnerable family or friends.
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 3 years and older can also receive the influenza vaccine at a participating pharmacy.
For a list of pharmacies, please visit:
If you have any questions, please email Provider Relations at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For access to all provider alerts,log into:
www.thecheckup.org or www.texaschildrenshealthplan.org/for-providers.