Robust Start on Flu Vaccinations at PAMF
Influenza (flu) season 2013 hasn’t started yet on the West Coast, but people are taking steps to stop it before it arrives. More than 25,000 patients received flu vaccinations in the first two weeks of PAMF’s special flu clinics. On average, every day Palo Alto Medical Foundation (PAMF) medical teams are administering an estimated 2,700 flu shots at its Bay Area centers.
PAMF is holding weekend Flu Express clinics at most of its locations throughout the region. Since 2006, the Mountain View Center has hosted a drive-through vaccine clinic, which is particularly popular with older adults, parents with small children and those with limited mobility. An estimated 400 patients received their annual flu vaccine in the first day of this year’s drive-through flu clinic.
“Numbers of people getting the vaccine at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation may be up slightly, possibly related to the harsh flu season we had last year as well as interest in the new quadrivalent flu vaccines,” said Charles Weiss, M.D., chair of PAMF’s Infectious Diseases Committee.
This year, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of a quadrivalent (four-virus) flu vaccine. This single vaccine offers protection against four different influenza viruses: two A viruses and two B viruses. Combined, the influenza A and B viruses cause the majority of influenza illness every year in the United States.
“We are not anticipating any shortage of supply and will continue to receive shipments of vaccine throughout the flu season,” Dr. Weiss said.
In the U.S., flu shots are recommended for everyone aged 6 months and older. The flu can be a very serious illness especially in young children, pregnant women, adults aged 65 and over, and those with underlying health conditions. October is a good time to get the flu vaccine as seasonal flu outbreaks typically peak sometime between December and March.
Now and for the duration of flu season, PAMF offers several venues for established patients to get the flu vaccine:
• Weekend community Flu Express clinics (the next one is on October 27)
• Weekday drop-in clinics at select locations
• Primary care doctors’ offices, if patients have a previously scheduled appointment for another reason.
In addition to regular adult and pediatric quadrivalent flu shot vaccines, PAMF is also offering high dose (for adults 65+) and Flu Mist nasal (healthy persons 2-49 years) flu formulations.
Hours are posted online for flu clinics scheduled at PAMF’s centers in Burlingame, Dublin, Fremont, Los Altos, Los Gatos, Mountain View, Palo Alto, Redwood City, Redwood Shores, Santa Clara, Sunnyvale, West Valley, Santa Cruz, Aptos, Scotts Valley and Watsonville.
Flu vaccines are readily available from all other medical services providers and at myriad retail and pharmacy outlets.
The flu section of PAMF’s website and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website offer tips on what people can do to prevent flu – and keep from spreading it to others.
Health Care Workers Requirements
The Santa Clara, Alameda and Santa Cruz Public Health Departments published orders for all health care workers to receive the influenza vaccination or begin wearing masks by November 1. PAMF is complying with these requirements. Vaccinations currently are being administered throughout the PAMF system to staff.
“Each day, people at high risk for flu complications pass through our medical centers and health care facilities. We make it a priority for all physicians and staff to get the flu vaccine so when we come to work we do not infect our patients,” Dr. Weiss said. “A person can have the flu and still have no symptoms, so we take the prudent path and strongly encourage everyone to get the flu vaccine.”
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