Thursday, October 14, 2010

Maine Influenza Update 10/14/10

Flu information for the general public

The first and most important step in protecting against the flu is to get a flu vaccination each season. US CDC recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older be vaccinated against the flu this year. Vaccine is already available in many places – you can check listings by zip code at www.flu.gov – and it will provide protection through the entire flu season.

The 2010-2011 flu vaccine will protect against:

· an influenza type A H3N2 virus,

· an influenza type B virus, and

· the 2009 H1N1 virus that caused so much illness last season.

You need to get the 2010-11 seasonal flu vaccine even if you got the 2009 H1N1 flu vaccine last season.

While there is a universal vaccination recommendation this season, it continues to be especially important that people at increased risk of serious flu complications get vaccinated against the flu. This includes:

· older people,

· young children,

· people with chronic lung disease (such as asthma and COPD), diabetes (type 1 and 2), heart disease, neurologic conditions, and certain other long-term health conditions,

· pregnant women, as well as

· American Indians and Alaska Natives, and

· people who are morbidly obese (defined as Body Mass Index (BMI) of 40 or more)

Over the years, hundreds of millions of people in the U.S. have safely received seasonal flu vaccines. Last flu season, about 80 million people in the U.S. also received the vaccine made to protect against the 2009 H1N1 virus, and the vaccine’s safety was similar to that of seasonal flu vaccines. Over the last 50 years, flu vaccines have been shown to be safe. Every year, CDC works closely with FDA, health care providers, state and local health departments, and other partners to ensure the highest safety standards for flu vaccines. CDC also works closely with FDA to ensure systems are in place to promptly detect unexpected health problems following vaccination.

Update on state-supplied vaccine distribution

Most influenza vaccine arrives in Maine through private sector channels, but some federal and state funds allow Maine CDC to purchase flu vaccine for some populations in Maine such as pregnant women, those in nursing homes, K-12 school children and their teachers and other staff, all other children, homeless people,, and people served by municipal and tribal health departments. Maine CDC will be distributing a total this year of about 290,000 doses of influenza vaccine, with over half of it having already arrived.

Doses Approved for Shipment as of Oct. 4:

Population

Doses

Children ages 6 months to 18 years

131,680*

Adults

34,560

Nursing homes and long-term care facilities

11,650

Total

177,890

* This includes doses shipped to both schools and private health care providers.

Number of schools that have received flu vaccine so far: 156

Number of doses distributed to schools so far: 49,090

All health care providers who have fulfilled the requirements in their provider agreements have received some vaccine toward their orders. If you are a provider who has not yet received vaccine, ensure that you have submitted all the appropriate paperwork and temperature logs.

Billing for state-supplied flu vaccine administration

Providers who receive state-supplied vaccine may not bill insurance for the cost of the vaccine itself. However, it is reasonable and allowable to bill insurance or charge for an administration fee for the administering the state-supplied vaccine in some circumstances, provided that:

  1. MaineCare eligible children are not charged an out of pocket administration fee;
  2. Administration fees do not exceed the regional Medicare maximum ($14.37/vaccine administration); and
  3. No one is denied vaccine because of their inability to pay an administration fee.

Maine CDC and the Office of MaineCare Services have worked together to enable roster billing for administration fees provided to MaineCare-eligible individuals. The ability to roster bill through ImmPact2 will be available October 18. For more information: http://www.maine.gov/dhhs/boh/maineflu/h1n1/educators-RosterBillingUpdateMeCare.pdf

Due to the large number of private insurers, Maine CDC has not been able to arrange for roster billing arrangements with private insurers. For more information on how to bill private insurers for flu vaccine administration, contact the insurer directly.


School-based Flu Vaccine Clinics

The governor has issued an executive order to provide certain liability protections to volunteer health care workers who register with Maine Emergency Management Agency and participate in school-based flu vaccine clinics. To register, visit https://www.maineresponds.org/.

Maine CDC has posted materials – including registration forms, consent forms, sample protocols, and a copy of the governor’s executive order – at: http://www.maine.gov/dhhs/boh/maineflu/h1n1/educators.shtml#schoolclinics.

Flu Information for Health Care Workers (HCW)

Flu can spread rapidly in health care settings. Vaccination is the first and most important step all Health Care Workers (HCW) can take to protect against the flu. HCW include all people whose occupational activities involve contact with patients or contaminated material in health care settings, including home health care or clinical laboratory settings. This includes those who do not provide direct patient care, but have patient contact as well as those working in clinical settings within non-health care institutions, such as school nurses or those staffing clinics in correctional facilities. For more information on who is considered a Health Care Worker and why HCW should get vaccinated against the flu, see our new Health Care Workers and Flu web site at http://www.maine.gov/dhhs/boh/maineflu/hc-workers.shtml

US CDC, Maine CDC, and other professional groups recommend that all Health Care Workers get annual influenza vaccine. However, fewer than half of HCW nationwide get the flu vaccine. With the emergence of the pandemic H1N1 flu in 2009, Maine CDC required health care facilities to report the rate of their workers vaccinated against H1N1. For these rates and other information, please see our Current Messages to Health Care Providers at http://www.maine.gov/dhhs/boh/maineflu/h1n1/health-care-providers.shtml

Maine CDC has also issued a health alert (http://www.maine.gov/tools/whatsnew/index.php?topic=DHHS-HAN&id=143003&v=alert) for health care providers to provide information and guidance for the 2010-2011 flu season.

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