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Posts Tagged: flu vaccination

Getting a flu vaccine in 2020 is more important than ever

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

University of California

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.”

Posted on Thursday, September 24, 2020 at 1:29 PM

Flu vaccination required for UC students, faculty and staff by Nov. 1

To support the health and well-being of UC students, faculty and staff and our communities, the University of California, in consultation with UC Health leadership, has issued a systemwide executive order requiring all members of the UC community to receive an influenza immunization before Nov. 1, 2020.

The executive order is an important proactive measure to help protect members of the UC community — and the public at large — and to ameliorate the severe burdens on health care systems anticipated during the coming fall and winter from influenza and COVID-19 illnesses.

In addition to protecting those on campuses and the surrounding communities, this requirement is designed to avoid a surge of flu cases at health care facilities across the state during the unprecedented public health crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), flu vaccination is a safe and effective way to prevent millions of illnesses and thousands of related medical visits every year. In recent years, flu vaccinations have reduced the risk of flu-associated hospitalizations among older adults on average by about 40%. Flu vaccinations also protect those around us, including those who are more vulnerable to serious flu illness.

The executive order requires the vaccination for all faculty and staff who are working at a UC location. The university already has a clear policy on immunizations for students, and this action adds influenza to existing vaccination requirements for them, and extends the requirement to faculty and staff beyond those which presently exist for all UC health care workers.

A process will be put in place for faculty and staff to request medical exemptions. Requests for disability or religious accommodations will be handled through the interactive process consistent with existing location policies and procedures.

All UC medical plans which cover faculty, staff and students include coverage for flu vaccinations at no cost to those covered by the plan. In addition, for those without group health care coverage, all ACA-compliant health plans also cover flu vaccinations as part of a preventive care package that includes no copay.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is the best source for information on this year's flu vaccinations and when it would be available.

Flu vaccine FAQs 
UCOP has published frequently asked questions concerning the 2020-21 UC influenza vaccination order at https://ucnet.universityofcalifornia.edu/coronavirus/frequently-asked-questions-for-employees-about-the-2020-21-uc-influenza-vaccination-order.html.

More information about the implementation of UC's requirement, and when the flu vaccination for 2020-21 is available, will be shared in the coming weeks.

Unauthorized survey 
UCOP Communications has learned that an outside market research firm, Consumer Evaluation & Insights, recently sent a survey about UC's flu vaccination policy to a number of UC faculty and staff with the subject line “Share your opinion on the UC Flu Vaccine requirement.” Please be aware this survey was not authorized or commissioned by UC, and you are under no obligation to complete it. 

Additionally, because data from this survey is being collected by an external organization, UC cannot make any assurances regarding the use, privacy or security of any information you provide.

 

Posted on Wednesday, August 26, 2020 at 2:54 PM

ANR has a tight budget, not budget crisis

In spite of slowed hiring due to budget constraints, the numbers of UC ANR academic are holding steady. Most current data shown, next quarter's data will be available in September.

ANR's budget is tight this year, but we don't have a budget crisis, VP Glenda Humiston emphasized during the ANR town hall on Aug. 15. In addition to the budget update, Humiston discussed UCPath, which launches on Oct. 1, and answered ANR members' questions during the 78-minute online meeting that was scheduled for an hour.

ANR's budget remained at $72.6 million for FY 2019-20, the same as last year, while expenses including salaries and benefits have increased nearly $5 million. She shared the good news that President Janet Napolitano will provide ANR with $2.2 million to help cover some of the shortfall the flat budget has created.

Despite the tight budget, Humiston reiterated ANR's commitment to continuing salary equity programs.

“ANR people are our most important resource, they are our infrastructure, so to speak, because without our people we can't do extension, we can't do research,” she said.

In addition to the one-time $2.2 million supplement, ANR will also receive $19 million to help with deferred maintenance.

“This is a huge increase over the roughly $700K we typically receive per year,” Humiston said, noting that the $19 million designated for capital projects cannot be spent for anything else. “We will also have access to more funding for this critical need as part of the General Obligation Bond that will be on next year's ballot.”

She also addressed concerns about the number of UC Cooperative Extension academics. 

“Despite a 20-year slide in funding from the state and federal government, we have been able to retain academic numbers through partnering more on shared appointments and redirection of administrative funds to programs. I'm very proud to say that the graph of our academic footprint has not been dropping the past 4 years.”

She pointed out that the state had been cutting funding for the entire UC system. The campuses are able to increase tuition fees to make up the difference while ANR depends on contracts, grants, private giving and other new funding sources. Humiston encouraged everyone to work with Development Services for support in securing more funding. She also urged everyone to tell stakeholders about the value of ANR's work for California.

“There is nothing, nothing good about being the best kept secret out there,” Humiston said.

“All of you do fantastic work. We've got to let our stakeholders know that and we also need to let them know about our budget situation.”

UCPath launches Oct. 1

John Fox, director of Human Resources, reminded everyone that UCPath will officially launch next month.  As part of the transition, the AYSO website will become view-only for personal information, tax withholding, and benefits on Aug. 30; all future changes will have to be made in the UCPath portal when it goes live Sept. 27.

The first paychecks from the new UCPath system will be issued on Oct. 1 for monthly paid employees, and on Oct. 2 for bi-weekly paid employees. Fox emphasized that meeting timesheet deadlines is critical in ensure accurate and timely pay in the new system. 

As UCPath goes live, the UC ANR Beehive – a team of people who have been involved in the project – will be available to academics and staff to help troubleshoot.

Visit the UC ANR UCPath website at http://ucpath.ucanr.edu to preview the employee self-service portal and get answers to frequently asked questions. Comments and questions can be addressed to ucpath@ucanr.edu.

Q & A

The following are some questions that were asked during the town hall:

Can you provide the actual budget numbers behind the charts and power point slides that were shared by Glenda to the CDs in January as well as current budget numbers?

Yes, we can provide the numbers. See the pie charts at the bottom of the one-page budget handout. We will post more budget information in a separate story.

When will we find out about professional development funds?

At the time of the call, AVP Wendy Powers had not received her budget letter. She expects the amount of professional development funds to be the same as last year and to announce within the next two weeks.

Did (or will) the ANR budget challenges impact decisions on academics' merit/promotion/accelerations? 

No. While the budget situation may impact the amount of money for salary equity programs or the increase to base scales (3% for CE Advisors and CE Specialists), it does not influence the merit and promotion decisions. Every year the percent of successful merits and promotions varies, as does the number of requests submitted and what requests are made. High level data suggest that this year's success rate is within the range since 2016. That high level data will be shared with the Academic Assembly Council for broader distribution. 

When is leadership going to update and improve ANR maternity leave policy, same for paternity leave. When will leadership begin to better align vacation for staff with vacation for academics?

UC ANR leadership does not have the authority to unilaterally change leave policies for our employees.  We are part of the UC system.  Policies for academics and staff are consistent across the system, and changes generally would have to be approved by the President or the Regents. 

When will we see/hear about the new communication strategy being created by our new communication leader?

A working strategic communications plan has been developed. Strategic Communications and Publishing are embarking on a combined strategic planning effort in September to develop longer-term strategies.

Why do we not have a map of specialists and advisors that serve our state on our website?

Informatics and GIS has created two maps. The storymap at http://arcg.is/0yWGfj can be used to quickly see where academic personnel covering specific subjects are located around the state. The UCANR Personnel Filtering App at https://arcg.is/0XHSXb can be used to query and visualize the data more fully. A short video (https://goo.gl/dzykqK) walks through the different features of the UCANR Personnel Filtering App.

How can we attract and retain talent for co-funded advisor positions when they have no indefinite status? How can co-funded academics maintain academic freedom when their position is tied to specific funding partners and their priorities?

For some time now, UC ANR has had two CE Advisors who are very talented and do not have indefinite status. We have successfully retained those individuals. More recently, we have attracted six more talented CE advisors into co-funded positions. All of these positions were filled upon the initial search.

Senior leadership is proud to have these people in these key positions, as are our funding partners. They are here now and there is no evidence that retention is an issue. There is no evidence that academic freedom is compromised. All of our academics are expected to work with stakeholders to identify their priority needs.

Are ANR staff encouraged to contact their local legislative representative to discuss ANR's contribution to California's leading ag industry?

You may and should educate and inform elected state and federal officials and their staff of the work you do in their districts. As UC employees, we cannot take positions on bills or ask for budgetary support without the expressed consent of the UC Office of the President. For more information, please contact Anne Megaro, director of government and community relations, and read the one-pager at http://ucanr.edu/sites/Professional_Development/files/293044.pdf.

A recording of the 78-minute town hall is at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=62WrjR1Il7w.

Posted on Friday, August 30, 2019 at 11:28 AM

Names in the News

Nouri named UCCE orchard systems advisor for San Joaquin County

Mohamed Nouri

Mohamed Nouri joined UC Cooperative Extension on July 1, 2019, as an orchard systems advisor serving San Joaquin County. Nouri will address production and pest management issues in walnuts and sweet cherries, as well as apples, oil olives, and several smaller-acreage crops. Because San Joaquin County is the statewide leader in both cherry and walnut production, Nouri will become a regional and statewide leader within ANR for these crops. 

Prior to joining ANR, Nouri worked for UC Davis as a graduate student and postdoctoral researcher at the Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center from 2015 to 2019. Working closely with UCCE specialists, UCCE farm advisors, pest control advisers and farmers, Nouri studied fungal diseases of major fruit and nut crops, including olive, pistachio, sweet cherry, citrus, almond and grape. He oversaw the plant disease diagnostic services for perennial fruit and nut crops in California and management tasks for the laboratory.

Conducting his research in California, Nouri earned a Ph.D. in plant pathology from University of Tunis El Manar, where he also earned an M.S. in microbiology and plant pathology and a B.S. in life and earth sciences. Nouri is fluent in Arabic and French. 

Nouri is based in Stockton and can be reached at (209) 953-6115 and mnouri@ucanr.edu.

Matias joins UCCE as nutrition specialist

Susana Matias

Susana Matias joined UC Cooperative Extension on July 1, 2019, as an assistant specialist in the UC Berkeley Department of Nutritional Sciences and Toxicology. She has several years of experience in public health nutrition and a profile that blends nutrition, epidemiology and psychology. Her research interests include maternal and child nutrition, immigrant health, food security, obesity and diabetes prevention, and nutritional and behavioral interventions. Her extension efforts focus on promoting healthy nutrition at the regional and local levels, and on expanding the role of nutrition within the delivery of primary care. 

Prior to joining UCCE, Matias was a research scientist at the California Department of Public Health and a specialist at UC San Francisco. From 2013 to 2018, she worked as an assistant project scientist at the UC Davis Department of Nutrition. Matias, who is fluent in Spanish, has authored an extensive list of scientific papers and technical reports.

She earned a Ph.D. in epidemiology with designated emphasis in international and community nutrition from UC Davis. She holds a M.A. in educational psychology and a B.A. in psychology from Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú.

Matias is based in Morgan Hall at UC Berkeley, and can be reached at (510) 642-0980 and slmatias@berkeley.edu.

Eftekhari named chief of staff to VP

Kathy Eftekhari

Kathy Eftekhari joined UC ANR as the vice president's new chief of staff on Aug. 19, 2019. 

As chief of staff, Eftekhari will provide leadership and managerial support to the division and will be a member of the UC ANR Core Leadership Team. Her professional experience includes more than 25 years successfully managing programmatic, financial and human resource operations within higher education, and in private and nonprofit organizations across the U.S. and abroad. She has considerable experience in economic and community development.  

Eftekhari comes to UC ANR from the Strategy and Program Management Office at the UC Office of the President, where she has served as a senior organizational consultant for the past six years. In this role, she was responsible for the development and facilitation of the UCOP strategic planning process and has also successfully led a number of UCOP and systemwide initiatives. Co-facilitating UC ANR's strategic planning process in 2016, she became familiar with UC ANR's high-level goals and challenges.   

She holds a B.A. in liberal studies, an M.A. in educational administration, and a Ph.D. in education with an emphasis on research and policy analysis, all from UC Berkeley.

Eftekhari is based in room 10204 at UCOP and can be reached at (510) 987-0980 and Kathy.Eftekhari@ucop.edu

Sapeta named director of Facilities Planning and Management 

Bart Sapeta

Bartlomiej (Bart) Sapeta joined UC ANR as director of Facilities Planning and Management Aug. 7. In this role, he will work with ANR units such as the Research Extension Centers and other ANR-owned and leased facilities across the state to plan and execute maintenance and capital renewal work.

Sapeta is a licensed architect and a former project manager with over a decade of experience in design, renovation, repurposing, master planning, historic preservation of buildings for civic, community, and education markets. 

Most recently, Sapeta was a city councilor for the City of Keene, NH, and a tenured associate professor of architecture at Keene State College. He also served as a client representative on several capital improvement projects for Keene State, and has extensive experience in design and building.

Sapeta earned his M.A. in historic preservation from Plymouth State University, Plymouth, NH, Master of Architecture and Engineering from Wroclaw University of Science and Technology, Wroclaw, Poland, and Bachelor of Architecture from Drury University, Springfield, Mo.

In his role as director of Facilities Planning and Management, Sapeta will report to Tu Tran, AVP for Business Operations, and with appropriate delegation of authority will be the appointed Building Official for the Division. 

Sapeta is based in the ANR Building in Davis and can be reached at (530) 750-1292 or bksapeta@ucanr.edu

Freutel joins CalNat in Southern California

Eliot Freutel

Eliot Freutel joined the California Naturalist Program as a community education specialist on March 12, 2019, to advance new and continuing CalNat programs in Southern California.

Freutel has extensive experience working in marine environments as an outdoor education instructor. Prior to joining UC ANR, he was an educator and climate resilience coordinator for the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach. In that capacity, he developed two community outreach programs focused on bringing climate resilience strategies to underserved community members. For over 10 years, he worked on Catalina Island with the Long Beach Marine Institute as an outdoor education instructor, teaching students about the ecology of the island.

He earned his B.A. in translation and interpretation for Spanish and English at California State University Long Beach. He is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese, a shark and marine ecology expert, and happiest when he is outdoors or underwater.

Freutel is based in the UCCE office in Alhambra and can be reached at (626) 586-1985 and etfreutel@ucanr.edu.

Ferguson named ASHS president-elect

Louise Ferguson. Photo by John Stumbos

Louise Ferguson, UC Cooperative Extension pomology specialist in the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis, is the new president-elect of the American Society for Horticultural Science (ASHS), a professional academic society.

Ferguson's research and extension work is in fruit and nut trees, including pistachios, olives, figs, citrus and other subtropical fruit crops. She works with Cooperative Extension farm advisors and growers throughout California to establish research and outreach programs that support the fruit and nut industry. Among her many accomplishments, she is also a core faculty member in the California Agricultural Leadership Foundation program.

Acclaimed for her international agricultural development work in Afghanistan, Egypt, Iraq, and Pakistan, Ferguson is also recognized as an international leader in knowledge extension related to fruit tree crop production in many countries around the world.

Her appointment began in July at the ASHS annual conference in Las Vegas. Following the upcoming year as president-elect, board member and executive committee member, Ferguson will serve for a year as ASHS President, and a third year as chair of the ASHS Board of Directors. – Ann Filmer

 

Advocacy is about building relationships

UCCE farm advisor Margaret Lloyd, in plaid shirt, led Debbie Thompson, Sacramento County deputy ag commissioner, and Assemblymember Jim Cooper on a tour to meet Mien strawberry growers she works with.
Most Californians do not live near a UC campus and therefore do not know that UC is present in their communities. We need to make all Californians aware that UC ANR is the local UC connection, delivering a variety of programs, services and research that builds and supports the local community. 

How do you achieve this? Communicate with all audiences throughout the year, not just during times of need. This helps form relationships as well as a deeper understanding of what it is that you do and how your work impacts the local community. This helps build a lasting relationship and a desire to support your research, programming, and services.

Congressman Jim Costa tweeted about his visit with UCCE and 4-H in Merced County
Many of our stakeholders know us through one program. By educating them about how our programs and academics work together – such as Master Gardener volunteers extending UC IPM information to the public or scientists with complementary expertise working together to address issues – people gain an appreciation for the value of UC ANR as a whole, not just individual programs. It's an impressive value proposition and it makes a difference in the lives of all Californians.

How should you educate elected officials?

As university employees, we may indicate our needs and ask for support with many audiences (e.g. funding organizations, boards of supervisors, donors, etc.) but we must take into consideration other factors when talking to elected state or federal officials or their staff members. 

We can, and should, educate and inform elected state and federal officials and their staff of the work UC ANR does in their districts. However, we cannot take positions on bills or ask for budgetary support without the expressed consent from the UC Office of the President. Only the regents, who have delegated authority to President Napolitano, can determine UC's official position on legislative issues.

So, what can you do if you can't ask for money? 

Share the impact of your work. Be specific! Tell a story and use UC ANR's public value statements to guide you. Sometimes a personal story about an individual who benefited from your work is easier to remember, and more moving, than total program impact to an entire community. For example, talk about your work solving a problem with a specific farmer and how it improved their bottom line, share a 4-H youth project, talk about working with a specific community partner and describe how you worked together to achieve a shared goal. Did you promote economic prosperity, develop a qualified workforce, or promote healthy people and communities? Did your partners save money? Did more 4-H youth go to college? Did participants lead healthier lives?

If we fine-tune the way we message our story and impacts, we can ensure that UC ANR will become widely known as the face of UC in communities throughout California.

For more information, see my one-pager at http://ucanr.edu/sites/Professional_Development/files/293044.pdf. Feel free to contact me at (530) 750-1218 or ammegaro@ucanr.edu.

 

 

 

Posted on Thursday, August 29, 2019 at 12:16 PM
  • Author: Anne Megaro, Government and Community Relations director

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