Physician offices prepare for challenging respiratory season amidst COVID-19 resurgence
Respiratory viruses could increase strain on stressed health system
By Medline Newsroom Staff | September 28, 2021
Recent health outlooks indicate this will be a challenging respiratory season with one study predicting between 100,000 and 400,000 more influenza (flu) hospitalizations in the 2021-2022 flu season compared to a typical season. As the pandemic continues, and because flu symptoms are similar to those of COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses, physician offices are shifting to comprehensive and combined testing to quickly and accurately diagnose patient illness, stocking up on flu vaccines and recommending them to patients.
Manufacturers including Becton Dickinson, Cepheid, and Quidel now offer tests that enable clinicians to test for not only COVID-19, but also respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and flu A or B from a single sample. While each of these viruses present similar symptoms, they require different treatment regimens.
“The ability to quickly identify what virus a patient has is critical to understanding what kind of treatment options can help them regain their health,” says Doug Sharpe, vice president of lab capital at Medline. “These next-generation tests help clinicians to differentiate between infections that have overlapping clinical presentations and provides actionable results.”
A comprehensive strategy
In addition to more effective testing, physician offices are also beginning to receive their supply of flu shots for the season to help patients get prepared.
“Last year, many clinics didn’t want patients to come in if they didn’t have to due to COVID-19 safety protocols, so significantly fewer flu shots were administered,” said Brian Hardy, director of marketing, nutrition and pharmaceuticals at Medline. “This year, we saw more customers pre-book early by March 2021 and flu shots started shipping to customers in August 2021. We’re also seeing a significant increase in orders for the pediatric flu vaccine this year compared to last year.”
As the COVID-19 Delta variant continues to affect the health system, patients seeking treatment for health issues like the flu may not be able to receive care. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, annual vaccines are the best way to protect against the flu. “The flu vaccine is now even more important in light of the resurgence of COVID. Taking the vaccine can relieve the stress on the health care system as COVID pushes our healthcare providers to their very limits,” Hardy continued. “In anticipation of a challenging flu and respiratory season, we are doing everything we can to ensure our partners are ready and equipped to vaccinate patients.”
While the flu typically makes patients feel bad for a few days, complications like bacterial pneumonia, ear infections, and chronic medical conditions can have a severe impact on a patient’s health.
“Flu shot deliveries normally continue until early December 2021 but customers can still purchase Flu vaccines on open order from Medline,” says Hardy. ”All of our flu vaccines are quadrivalent, which means they protect against four different flu viruses, including two Influenza A viruses and two Influenza B viruses.”
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