COVID Update: Don’t Forget About the Flu!

September 20, 2021

Five Things

 

In this month’s news report you’ll find

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COVID-19 Trends

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Top 4 Must Reads

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What About the Flu?

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COVID-19 Testing Resources

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Online COVID-19 Education

WNC COVID-19 Trends

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Over this past summer, we saw the fastest increase in COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began. In some communities, more than 30% of COVID-19 tests are coming back positive. Some of our regional hospitals are at or near capacity to care for critically ill patients.

More than 90% of people hospitalized with COVID-19 are unvaccinated, and they are younger and sicker than earlier in the pandemic. The most recent covid-like illness surveillance data show that unvaccinated people are

  • 4 times more likely to contract COVID-19
  • 13 times more likely to die from COVID-19

A third of all new COVID-19 cases are being reported in children 17 and younger. Unfortunately, only 35% of eligible teens (12-17) and 40% of young adults (18-24) are vaccinated. If you have questions about the safety and effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine for teens, please visit www.TeenVaxFacts.com to learn more.

 

 

September “Must Reads”

 

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COVID-19 Clusters Increase Among Middle and High School Sports Teams. NC is seeing a sharp increase in COVID-19 clusters in school sports teams, accounting for 45% of all clusters in these schools. Vaccination for teens 12 and older is strongly encouraged to reduce the risk of contracting COVID.

COVID-19 Resources for WNC Businesses & Organizations. This handy one-page guide is designed to help WNC business owners, leaders, and managers quickly access the information they need to keep employees, customers, and visitors safe during the pandemic.

Covid Vaccine Prompts Strong Immune Response in Younger Children, Pfizer Says. After reviewing data that indicate the vaccine is safe and effective in 5 to 11 year olds, Pfizer and BioNTech plan to apply for FDA authorization by the end of the month for use in this age group.

To Boost or Not to Boost? That Is Still the Question. The FDA’s vaccine advisory panel recommends Pfizer boosters only be made available to those over age 65 and anyone at higher risk for severe illness. This new recommendation does not include the Moderna or Johnson and Johnson vaccines. The FDA now has to decide whether to authorize booster shots for these populations.

 

 

Don’t Forget About the Flu!

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This fall, it is important to not only protect yourself from COVID-19 but also the seasonal flu, which can lead to severe illness, hospitalization, and death. The flu vaccine can reduce your risk for infection and serious illness. It can also keep you out of the hospital at a time when hospital beds are in short supply because of the pandemic.

You can get your flu vaccine at the same places you can get COVID-19 vaccines: your local pharmacy, primary care provider, urgent care center, and public health department. You can even get both vaccines at the same time for added convenience, which is considered safe by the CDC
. It is not clear how getting both vaccines at once impacts temporary side effects, so you might want to schedule your vaccine appointment on or just before a weekend or a planned day off.

Find a vaccine provider

 

 

COVID-19 Testing Resources

 

It is more important than ever to get tested early if you experience respiratory or other COVID-19 symptoms. Testing can help you determine if your symptoms are from a seasonal cold or flu or an active COVID-19 infection. Early detection can help keep you from accidentally spreading COVID-19 to others including children and people with compromised immune systems who could become seriously ill.

Early detection also buys you precious time to access monoclonal antibody treatment for COVID-19 or an antiviral drug for influenza like Tamiflu to reduce your risk for severe illness, hospitalization, and death. Free COVID-19 tests are available at many locations including your healthcare provider, pharmacies, urgent care centers, and your local health department. You can also access testing using the following resources:

 

COVID-19 Community Resources

 

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Prevention, Treatment & Vaccination

  • COVID-19 County Check. This online CDC tool helps you determine how quickly COVID is spreading in your community or one you may be planning to visit
  • COVID-19 Testing Guide. This public health handout can help you determine when to get a COVID-19 test and when/if to quarantine after a known COVID-19 exposure
  • COVID-19 Vaccine Information with vaccine facts, a vaccine locator, transportation assistance, and other vaccination resources
  • FDA Approves First COVID-19 Vaccine. Full approval of the Pfizer vaccine for individuals 16 and older has come after a careful review of 6 months of safety data
  • Greater Than COVID. Get answers to your questions about COVID-19 vaccines in short video interviews with African American, Black, and Latinx doctors and healthcare workers
  • Monoclonal Antibody Treatment. MAHEC is offering this outpatient treatment to eligible patients with a provider referral to prevent complications from COVID-19
  • Who Needs a Flu Vaccine and When. The CDC recommends the flu vaccine for everyone 6 months and older, especially those at risk for serious illness (who are also at risk from COVID-19)
  • Worried About Breakthrough Infections? COVID-19 vaccines are very effective at preventing serious illness and death, but other factors may impact your risk for a milder infection
  • Your Guide to Masks and Tips for Correct Mask Use. CDC guidance on what kinds of masks offer the best protection against COVID-19 and how to wear and care for them

 

Student & Children’s Health

 

Women’s Health & Fertility

 

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Pandemic Relief

  • Buncombe County Residents may be eligible for assistance with rent, utilities, food, medical coverage, child care and other needs; call (828) 250-5500 for more information.
  • Community Health Workers (CHWs) can help WNC residents impacted by COVID-19 access community resources and support services. Find your CHW here.
  • HOPE Program. Rent and utility assistance may be available to North Carolina renters and their landlords; apply online or call (888) 927-5467 for more information.
  • Lifeline National Verifier is a temporary federal program that can help lower the monthly cost of your phone and/or internet service.
  • NC Homeowner Assistance Fund. This program is still being finalized; fill out this interest form to be notified when the application portal opens.

 

WNC Vaccine Locations (many offering walk-in service)

 

Online Education

 

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2021 Asheville African American Health Symposium | MAHEC
Sept. 30 - Oct. 2, live and virtual options

Ask The Doc | Pregnancy, Fertility, and COVID-19 Vaccines | WakeMed & Wake County
FB Live recording

Cafecito: COVID-19 Vaccines for Teens and Adults | NC Department of Health & Human Services
Recorded Spanish-language webinar about COVID-19 vaccines

COVID-19 Vaccines and Young Adults | NC Department of Health & Human Services
FB Live recording

Let's Talk- Back to School Immunizations | Buncombe County Health & Human Services
FB Live recording in English and Spanish

News Conference on Delta Variant | James Lawler, MD, Univ. of Nebraska Medical Center
YouTube recording

 

 

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