With the novel coronavirus still infecting thousands of people a day, public health officials worry that a bad flu season could overwhelm hospitals and clinics that are already stretched thin.
The best thing you can do to make sure that doesn't happen: Get a flu shot.
The flu shot is now widely available, and virtually all insurance plans cover the cost. Some health care providers are even offering the safety and convenience of getting vaccinated at an outdoor drive-up or walk-up location.
The life you save could be your own
If helping our overtaxed health care system isn't reason enough to get vaccinated, consider the fact that it could actually save your life. 34,000 people died of influenza during the 2018-2019 flu season and nearly half a million others were hospitalized.
Getting a flu vaccine is the most important thing you can do to protect yourself from flu and its most serious complications. And it could also help ensure that you don't contract COVID-19 and the flu at the same time.
Doctors don't yet know what will happen to patients with that kind of dual diagnosis, said UC San Francisco epidemiologist George Rutherford.
What is clear is that the flu and COVID-19 both target the lung, he said.
“And to the extent that the lungs are damaged by one disease and the other one comes along and damages it more, you can get into trouble faster,” he said.
He added that it's also known that influenza can make you more susceptible to infection by other pathogens. “In fact, a lot of the deaths of the 1918 flu pandemic were probably from staphylococcal pneumonia as a superinfection on top of influenza pneumonia,” he said.
Do it for your loved ones
Still not convinced that you should get a flu shot? Think about doing it for the people you love.
Flu is highly contagious, and particularly dangerous for the elderly, people with underlying health conditions, and children. The greater the number of people who get vaccinated, the better protected these vulnerable populations will be.
“If you get influenza, you may be putting your loved ones — the very young, the very old, such as your children, parents and grandparents — at risk,” said Charles Chiu, M.D., Ph.D., an infectious disease expert at UC San Francisco.
“I think it's important to realize that taking the vaccine is not just for you, it's also to prevent spreading the virus to others. So, on a community level, the more people that are vaccinated, the fewer overall cases we're going to get.
Still not sure about getting a flu vaccine this year?
This Q&A from Nina Bai and UCSF sets the record straight on common myths. Read their full article on the flu shot here.
In a typical flu season, less than half of Americans get a flu shot, putting themselves and their loved ones at risk of a preventable disease.
Some people may have doubts about vaccine efficacy. Others think the flu is no big deal. And during COVID-19, some worry about the risks of going to a doctor's office.
We asked the experts about these common concerns.
I'm not sure about getting a flu vaccine because …
1. Going to the doctor's office seems risky during COVID-19.
“The risk at a doctor's office is very likely to be much less than the risk of going out to a supermarket or a crowded location,” said Chiu. That's because health care workers are vigilant about taking the appropriate precautions. Most documented COVID-19 outbreaks have occurred in gatherings where people were not adhering to standard precautions like mask wearing and social distancing. “This is exactly the opposite of a controlled situation such as the doctor's office,” said Chiu.
Experts say local pharmacies are also safe settings to get a flu shot.
Like any activity during COVID-19, it's about balancing the risks and benefits. “The benefits of getting a vaccine far outweigh the very, very low risk of one visit to a doctor's office while wearing a mask and social distancing,” said Chiu.
2. I'm already social distancing and wearing a mask, so I won't catch the flu.
It's true that your risk of catching the flu is much less if you wear a mask and social distance one hundred percent of the time, said Chiu, but “we know that people get tired of these measures” and may not always be rigorous.
As colder weather sets in, more activities will move indoors where transmission is more likely. At the same time, more states may be opening up and lifting restrictions, more people will be going back to work and kids going to back to school. “Although the risks might be low now that people are still behaving, the worry is that it's going to change,” said Chiu. “It only takes one episode where you forget to wear your mask, or choose not to, that can put you and others at risk.”
3. I heard the flu season is going to be mild this year
It's true that Australia, where the flu season peaks from June to August, has so far seen a much milder flu season, but that's likely due to social distancing, travel restrictions, and a higher than usual vaccination rate.
Those factors may not translate to the colder temperatures and variable mitigation measures across the U.S. The risk will also fall disproportionately on essential workers who don't have the luxury of sheltering at home, said Chiu.
“My worry isn't that we're going to have an overwhelming flu season,” said Chiu, “My worry is that even a mild flu season may be enough to tip our health care system over the edge.”
4. The flu vaccine isn't very effective anyway.
The effectiveness of the flu vaccine varies from year to year depending on how closely we've guessed the strains, but we won't know the effectiveness of this year's vaccine until the flu season is over next spring, said Chiu. It's too early even to glean from the Southern hemisphere, which is still in its flu season.
“What's valuable about the vaccine is that even if it is, say, only 50 percent protective one year, it has been shown that getting the vaccine may decrease the severity of illness and your risk of being hospitalized for influenza,” said Chiu.
Besides the personal benefit, getting a flu vaccine also contributes to the wider public health effort. “I think it's important to realize that taking the vaccine is not just for you, it's also to prevent spreading the virus to others,” he said. “So on a community level, the more people that are vaccinated, the fewer overall cases we're going to get.”
5. I'm young and healthy, so the flu isn't dangerous for me.
“People die of influenza at all age groups,” said Rutherford. “It causes a lot of morbidity and mortality.”
“Even in someone who is young and healthy, influenza can put them out of work for one to two weeks because of the fever and overwhelming fatigue,” said Chiu. “It's not a disease that you want to get.”
Another reason for young people to get the flu shot, said Chiu, is to protect those who are more vulnerable. You can spread the virus to others even before you are overtly symptomatic. “If you get influenza, you may be putting your loved ones — the very young, the very old, such as your children, parents, and grandparents — at risk.”
6. The vaccine contains harmful chemicals and can cause disease.
“The components of a flu vaccine have been extensively studied and vetted by not only the CDC, but also the FDA, and the data show overwhelmingly that these vaccines are safe and effective,” said Chiu.
“Just like any vaccine, there's a possibility of some soreness or redness at the site of the shot, or low-grade fever and aches,” said Chiu. “But flu vaccines do not cause flu and they do not cause conditions like autism.”/h3>/h3>/h3>/h3>/h3>/h3>/h3>/h3>/h3>
Do you have a creative idea that reflects UC ANR's mission and public values and will generate sustainable revenue to support your program delivery and reach? Does that idea just need a little help to get it off the ground? If an investment into the idea will help its launch and ensure its success, UC ANR leadership wants to hear about it!
The intent is to use a small portion of reserve funding to secure UC ANR's ability to meet the needs of all Californians. These investments are for the implementation of new ideas and approaches to funding our programs, and not intended to provide bridge funding or grant support. This “venture capital” will be used to launch novel approaches to cost-recovery or income-generation related to program delivery.
Here are a few examples:
- Establish a new partnership model
- Build a fee-based online curriculum or micro-accreditation offering
- Invest in a platform that has novel delivery or subscription use
- Establish a fee-for-service lab or services
- Develop a fee-based speaker series
All UC ANR personnel located throughout the state – academics and staff, field-based and campus-based – are eligible.
- A new revenue stream that contributes to financial security of the program, while increasing or maintaining program reach that is consistent with the UC ANR mission
- Capital repayment – payments must begin within 12 months of award with complete repayment targeted within a 24-month period
Submissions will be received and reviewed on an ongoing basis until the allocated reserve funds ($300,000) are depleted. Any funds not used will remain in the reserve pool.
Read more about the submission and selection process at https://ucanr.edu/sites/Professional_Development/files/335333.pdf.
- Author: Jodi Azulai
Nominations are now open for the 2021 UC Women's Initiative for Professional Development (UC WI). Please submit nominations by Oct. 14, 2020.
As in the past, ANR will be sponsoring women academics and staff to participate in the 2021 program. UC WI is committed to enabling the full participation, success and advancement of woman-identified professionals at the University. The program is open to all who support and are committed to this mission.
The program is designed to
- Cultivate a professional network that spans the UC system
- Provide access to top UC leaders — women and men — to learn about their diverse leadership approaches and journeys
- Strengthen skills and confidence through hands-on practice with a range of tools in the areas of:
- Professional development and impact
- Strategic relationship building
- Developing and delivering a compelling narrative regarding one's professional accomplishments and vision
- Negotiating at work
- Peer coaching
The ideal participant:
- Is mid-career faculty, staff or academic employee
- Has demonstrated potential for advancement
- Supports woman-identified professionals and seeks to learn concepts that improve their effectiveness at work and hear about the career journeys of established UC leade
Selected candidates will participate in a cohort that meets for four online sessions during:
- January-March 2021, or
- April – June 2021
- For exact cohort dates/workshop sessions, see last 3 pages of this document.
Six cohorts of 30 participants each with representatives from every UC location, come together for interactive sessions jointly led by a Coro Northern California facilitator and a UC Facilitator. UC facilitators are past graduates of the program who share their experience and expertise and add a UC perspective. The final session of each cohort program will be a combined capstone event that allows participants to make systemwide connections.
- Nominate someone, yourself, or more than one person.
- You can nominate more than one person without having to fill out a new form each time.
- A letter of recommendation is suggested but not required.
- Combine – if there are multiple letters of recommendation – into a single PDF.
- When prompted foranFAU account – enter “999”
- Once candidates are selected the Learning & Development Coordinator will send the proper accounting information.
If you have additional files, please send them to email@example.com.
If you are interested in participating in this program, please talk to your supervisor. Supervisors are asked to send in nominations by 11:59 p.m. on Oct. 14, 2020. Late or incomplete nominations will not be considered.
The program is a collaboration between the UC Systemwide Advisory Committee on the Status of Women and UC Human Resources, and is delivered by CORO, a nonprofit leadership-development organization that has worked with UC for the past decade. UC President Napolitano supports and partially funds the program. ANR will cover registration fees and reimburse travel expenses and half the lodging for those selected.
If you have questions about the program, please contact Jodi Azulai.
- Author: Kit Alviz
UC Delivers communicates your project's measured outcome for your clientele around learning and action and how these contribute to broader UC ANR condition changes and public value. It now displays in a blog format, which makes it easier to share.
We need your stories! Find UC Delivers in your UC ANR portal under Blogs. Click on it to get started and follow this template for structuring your blog post. When you are satisfied with your post, click "make this post live." Since this is a moderated blog, it will be reviewed by blog manager Kit Alviz (firstname.lastname@example.org) for content and formatting before it goes live.
UC Delivers can help you…
- …get recognized!
Blogging on UC Delivers shares the impact of your extension work, positioning you as a leader. UC Delivers posts are shared with UC ANR senior leaders, county directors, Development Services and Strategic Communications, who share the examples of public value with federal funders, legislators, UC regents and potential donors. UC Delivers is featured on UC ANR's About webpage. Stories are also posted on the national Land Grant Impacts database, which is the source of stories shared with members of Congress to show how Americans benefit from investing in agricultural research and extension.
- …grow your network!
Write a UC Delivers to increase your reach to new and existing clientele via social media. Easily share your UC Delivers on platforms like Twitter and Facebook by clicking “Share” on the upper right side of the blog, and use the new social media summary from your blog post. Also, follow the UC Delivers blog to see your colleagues' outcomes and connect with them.
- …strengthen your merit/promotion!
UC Delivers are recognized as popular articles in the UC ANR merit and promotion process.
- Author: Pamela Kan-Rice
On Aug. 8, 2020, President Trump signed an executive order for U.S. employers to have the option to defer the collection of employee payroll taxes through Dec. 31, 2020.
Two weeks ago, the Internal Revenue Service issued guidance on this optional program. This program would call for the OASDI Social Security taxes deferred from the employees' wages through Dec. 31, 2020, to be repaid by the employees during the January through April pay period of 2021 in addition to their regular OASDI Social Security withholdings for that period.
After this guidance from the IRS and the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO), and in consultation with the controllers at every UC location, UCOP has decided that the University of California system should not participate in this optional program at this time.