JACKSON, Miss., Oct. 1, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — With public health officials warning of a possible overlap of influenza and COVID-19 this fall, the stakes for increasing flu vaccination rates have never been higher. Magnolia Health (Magnolia) is launching its annual Fluvention® program to encourage Mississippi residents to get a flu vaccine. This year also introduces new considerations, as Magnolia also looks to help people better understand the differences between the flu and COVID-19.
Experts at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), have begun urging Americans to get a flu vaccination. They, like many other public health experts, worry about health systems that are already stressed by large numbers of COVID-19 patients being overwhelmed by patients sick with the flu.
According to a survey conducted last flu season, prior to the outbreak of COVID-19 in the U.S., 60 percent of adults think the flu vaccine is the best preventive measure against flu-related hospitalizations and deaths, but only 52 percent said they planned to get vaccinated. Furthermore, 18 percent said they were unsure about getting vaccinated. There’s reason to believe that increasing vaccination rates this year will be a challenge. The CDC has already noted a decline in child vaccinations, as parents have decided to forgo preventive care during the novel coronavirus outbreak. While it’s typically encouraged to receive a flu vaccine by the end of October, there’s still a benefit to getting the flu vaccine later in the season, since flu season can extend into March or April.
To help reduce flu-related illness and hospitalizations in Mississippi, Magnolia will be regularly communicating with members – via texts, phone calls, emails and social media – to make a plan to get their flu vaccines. Additionally, Magnolia providers will receive messaging toolkits to help them strengthen how they communicate with their patients about getting their annual flu vaccination. That’s important, because Magnolia’s research shows that one of the main reasons people get a flu vaccination is because their doctors recommend it. Magnolia will also be sharing flu prevention tips and promoting healthy behaviors, including good hygiene, as part of its Fluvention® program. Magnolia members can receive a free flu vaccination through their doctor or at a pharmacy close to them.
“To help protect against the flu, we encourage members to schedule their vaccination appointments as soon as possible,” said Michael Adcock, VP of Population Health Management, Magnolia Health. “Since it can take two weeks after getting the vaccine for the antibodies that protect against the flu to fully develop, it’s best to get a flu vaccine as early in the season if possible.”
Some of the symptoms of flu and COVID-19 are similar, so it can be difficult to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone. There are also unique considerations for avoiding the spread of COVID-19 versus the flu. Below are a few key differences:
- Some signs and symptoms of the virus that causes COVID-19, different from flu, may include change in or loss of taste or smell.
- Flu symptoms typically develop 1-4 days after infection, while COVID-19 symptoms may appear 2 – 14 days after exposure to the virus.
- Most people with the flu are contagious for 1 day before they show symptoms. With COVID-19, it’s possible for someone to spread the virus for about 2 days before symptoms, and they remain contagious for at least 10 days after symptoms first appeared. COVID-19 may also be spread by people who are not showing symptoms.
- There are multiple vaccines to protect against the flu virus, but as of 2020 there is no vaccine for the virus that causes COVID-19.
- Contact your healthcare provider if you think you may have been exposed to COVID-19 or the flu.
Vaccination and good hygiene, like washing hands and covering coughs and sneezes, are key to preventing the flu and staying healthy this flu season. While everyone 6 months of age and older should get the flu vaccine, the CDC notes it’s especially important for the following groups who are at higher risk for complications:
- Pregnant women
- Children younger than age 5, but especially children younger than age 2
- People 65 years of age and older
- People of any age with certain chronic medical conditions
Magnolia Health has been supporting Mississippi residents since 2011 across its Medicaid, Medicare, and Ambetter plans. For more information about Magnolia’s Fluvention® program and other healthcare support, visit https://www.magnoliahealthplan.com/members/medicaid/benefits-services/flu-shots.html.
About Magnolia Health
Magnolia Health is a long-term solution to help the state of Mississippi enhance care for Medicaid recipients, while most effectively managing taxpayer dollars. A physician-driven, Mississippi-based Coordinated Care Organization (CCO), Magnolia is backed by its parent company, Centene Corporation (Centene). Centene has more than 30 years of experience in Medicaid and other government-funded programs such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and long-term care. For more information about Magnolia, visit www.magnoliahealthplan.com.
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SOURCE Magnolia Health