Flu Season Continues in Texas

Patients across Texas continue to visit physician offices with cases of influenza. Flu activity in the state is considered widespread, according to the Department of State Health Services' surveillance. Influenza A (H1N1), influenza A (H3N2), and influenza B have been identified by laboratories as circulating in Texas.

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends antiviral treatment as soon as possible for patients who have severe illness or who are at higher risk for influenza complications. Oseltamivir and zanamivir are the recommended medications for circulating virus strains.

ACIP recommends universal vaccination this flu season. This includes health care personnel (HCP). Flu vaccination rates among HCP peaked last year at 62 percent after years below 50 percent. A November 2010 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) survey indicated 55 percent of HCP received a flu vaccination. A follow-up survey will be conducted in April.

The TMA website offers a continuing medical education course, Increasing Influenza Immunization Coverage of Health Care Workers [PDF]. You can receive 1 AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM and 1 credit in medical ethics and/or professional responsibility. To request a copy of the booklet be mailed to you, contact the TMA Knowledge Center by telephone at (800) 880-7955 or by e-mail. You may also download and read the PDF, print it, and complete and return the course evaluation to the TMA Knowledge Center, 401 W. 15th St., Austin, TX 78701, or fax it to (512) 370-1693.

The CDC website has several online resources that summarize guidance for physicians:

TMA's Flu Fighters also have information you can use in treating patients with the flu. You may get the information on the TMA website. The Flu Fighters are infectious disease experts who provide as-needed updates on this year's flu season.

Texas Vaccines for Children (TVFC) Program providers can order vaccine for the 2011-12 influenza season onlinebut they must do so by March 23. Vaccine deliveries will begin around September.

Providers may request preferred influenza product brands and formulations, and these requests will be honored to the extent possible. Choice is limited to products and funding allocated to TVFC by CDC. Orders may be filled in their entirety or in partial shipments as vaccines become available next fall.

Online submission of influenza orders is preferred; however, if a provider site does not have access to the Internet to place the order, a physical order form may be used. Contact the local health department or health service region where you submit your regular TVFC orders to obtain a physical form. 

Free 2011-12 Influenza Vaccine Information Statements in English or Spanish will be available for order in late summer or early fall of 2011 at https://secure.immunizetexasorderform.com/default.asp. Scroll down to C-93 or C93-A.

Call (800) 252-9152 if you need more information.

Action, March 15, 2011