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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

Names in the News

Kron named north coast IPM advisor

Cindy Kron

Cindy Kron joined UC Cooperative Extension as area-wide IPM advisor for Sonoma, Napa, Mendocino and Lake counties in September 2019. 

Before joining UCCE, Kron studied the three-cornered alfalfa hopper as a research entomologist for USDA in their Crop Disease, Pests and Genetics research unit. She tested cover crop species as feeding and reproductive hosts of the three-cornered alfalfa hopper in addition to testing commercially available biocontrol agents against the different life stages of the treehopper. She collaborated with a UC Davis colleague to create a degree-day model that predicts the ideal timing to implement cultural control measures with the greatest impact on treehopper populations. 

Kron has researched a variety of insects including a two-year vineyard study on the population dynamics of Virginia creeper leafhopper, western grape leafhopper and variegated leafhopper. For her dissertation, she investigated the biology and behavior of the three-cornered alfalfa hopper and its relationship with vineyards. She also studied the effects of temperature on the developmental rate of the invasive European grapevine moth and reared brown marmorated stink bugs for USDA fumigation studies.

“My experiences have motivated me to help growers, stakeholders and the industry solve agricultural pest management problems through applied research and identifying IPM strategies and tactics that are economically feasible and implementable while having the lowest environmental impact,” Kron said.

Kron earned her bachelor's degree in viticulture and enology, with a minor in agricultural pest management, and her doctorate in entomology at UC Davis.

She is based in Santa Rosa and can be reached at ckron@ucanr.edu.

Nocco named UCCE specialist in soil-plant-water relations

Mallika Nocco

Mallika Nocco joined UC ANR in September 2019 as a UC Cooperative Extension specialist in soil-plant-water relations, based in the Department of Land, Air and Water Resources at UC Davis.

After five years as a health care representative in the corporate world, Nocco decided to pursue her interest in soil, plants and the conundrum of sustainable agriculture.

She earned a Ph.D. in environment and resources and a master's degree in soil science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the Nelson Institute's Environment and Resources Program. She earned her bachelor's degree in cultural studies/comparative literature and philosophy from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.

Nocco is based at UC Davis and can be reached at manocco@ucdavis.edu. Follow her on Twitter @mallika_nocco.

Harper honored as Range Manager of the Year

John Harper, center, shown with Mel George and Harper's wife, Amy.

The California-Pacific Society for Range Management honored John Harper, UCCE livestock and natural resources advisor for Mendocino and Lake counties, with its Range Manager of the Year Award.

“He has advanced an exceptional program of extension education and public service that has been exemplary in gathering and evaluating scientific information and extending information to the range livestock industry and agencies locally and statewide,” wrote Mel George, emeritus UCCE range specialist,in his letter nominating Harper for the award.

Early in his career, Harper helped local ranchers evaluate grazing management practices and develop ranch management plans to address water issues associated with grazing and rangelands in the early 1990s. He was instrumental in developing the Rangeland Watershed Program's Ranch Water Quality Planning Short Courses and associated educational materials that led to the development of water quality plans for more than 2 million acres by more than 1,000 ranchers in California, according to George. In 2012, the Western Extension Directors bestowed an Award of Excellence on the Rangeland Watershed Program.

An early adopter of social media for outreach, Harper developed the blog UCCE Livestock and Range Topics and integrated the use of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn into his suite of information delivery methods.  

In 2012 Harper became California's representative to the Rangeland Partnership, which is responsible for the Rangelands West and Global Rangelands website. He provided leadership to industry in the use of social media to communicate about rangelands and their management. 

Harper also improved access to university information and publications by the California Cattlemen's Association and other agricultural organizations. He has been developing new content, digitizing and archiving old publications and revamping the California Rangelands website and the UCCE Livestock & Range Beef Cattle web page.

Over the last few years, Harper has invested considerable time in economic development in Mendocino and Lake counties.

“He has been a central figure in the development of plans for a multi-species slaughterhouse to serve niche marketers on the north coast,” George wrote. “This would create jobs and strengthen the farm-to-consumer marketing of meat products. Likewise, he has worked with individuals to develop wool processing facilities and cheese making enterprises that will increase economic activity and potentially create jobs.”

For many years, Harper has organized what may be the only sheep shearing school in the U.S., creating new careers for the students while filling a need for sheep shearers. All 28 slots of his 2019 Beginning Sheep Shearing School were filled within 2 minutes of registration opening.

Harper received the award at the California-Pacific Society for Range Management Section Meeting Oct. 17.

Posted on Monday, December 23, 2019 at 11:02 AM

New annual report shows how UC ANR is improving California life with science-based solutions

UC ANR's program planning and evaluation has compiled a 16-page 2018 annual report that provides an overview of the sweeping impacts our scientists and educators made in 2018. The impacts are felt across the state – in places where water is scarce, climate is changing farming practices, children need a little extra support to get to college, and families can use guidance to stretch their food budgets.

Of the hundreds of ways UC ANR impacts California lives and livelihoods, 40 are highlighted in the new publication, Working for the Benefit of All Californians: 2018 UC ANR Annual Report. A limited number of printed copies are available. Email jennifer.caron-sale@ucop.edu to request paper copies.

UC ANR has identified public value statements that reflect the breadth of its efforts. Academics and staff are working to promote economic prosperity, safeguard sufficient safe and healthy food for all, protect the state's natural resources, promote healthy people and communities, develop a qualified workforce, build climate change resilience in communities and ecosystems, and develop an inclusive and equitable society. These values touch every person in the state.

During the period covered in the new report, robust research and education programs supported agricultural communities. For example, UC ANR scientists improved the ability to predict beet curly top virus, avoiding losses approaching $100 million in processing tomatoes. A workshop offered by UC ANR educators on low-stress livestock handling convinced all the participants to incorporate the practices on their ranches. Online and in-person workshops provided to urban farmers resulted in new food safety plans for nearly all of the growers involved.

Families, farmers and natural resource managers are facing the prospect of climate change and looking for ways to continue prospering under uncertain conditions. Increasingly ferocious wildfires are causing serious losses to ranchers. UC ANR provided information on management practices to safeguard resources, prevent soil erosion and estimate the cost of forage losses so ranch owners can prepare loss claims. UC ANR has been instrumental in development of a website, Cal-Adapt.org, a clearing house to collect and disseminate climate change data.

Families and youth are a focus of UC ANR nutrition research, nutrition education and programs such as 4-H and CalFresh Healthy Living, UC. One UC ANR researcher collaborated with the Karuk, Yurok and Klamath tribes to identify culturally sound solutions to reduce food insecurity. In two Northern California counties, students were introduced by UC ANR educators to 36 local produce items. Their selection, consumption and interest in the produce served at lunchtime increased. UC ANR piloted a program that gets Latinx youth outside for environmental education.

Making food safer, enriching children's lives, extending reliable nutrition education and improving the productivity on California farms and ranches add up to significant value to the recipients of the services and to all Californians by making the state a better place to live and work.

Posted on Friday, December 20, 2019 at 1:42 PM

ANR releases 6 UCCE advisor positions for recruitment

Glenda Humiston
I am thrilled to announce that the following 6 CE Advisor positions from the 2018 CE position proposals are released for recruitment:

  • #12 Production Horticulture Advisor, San Diego County
  • #42 Agronomy Area Advisor, Merced County
  • #54 Livestock and Natural Resources Advisor, Siskiyou County
  • #58 Nutrition, Family, and Consumer Sciences Area Advisor, San Mateo-San Francisco Counties
  • #62 Vegetable Crops and Small Farms Advisor, Riverside County
  • #66 Pomology and Water/Soils Area Advisor, Kings County

The Academic HR unit will begin to work on recruitment plans for the above CE Advisor positions immediately following the winter break.

In addition, I commit to refill the position “#49 Irrigation and Water Resources Advisor, Glenn County” at such time that a gap occurs.

These were difficult decisions to make because while we need the above positions, there are many more needs for both CE Specialist and CE Advisor positions that continue to wait for additional funding. Additionally, while we have grown the CE Specialist numbers over the last several years, the number of CE Advisors in the field has steadily declined. For this reason, we are not releasing additional CE Specialist positions at this time. I remain deeply committed to the 4-H Youth Development Program and support the current conversations underway about investments in expanding non-academic support to improve program delivery to our local communities.

I hope to release 5 to 6 more positions in the spring/summer. This is possible, in part, due to the advanced notice provided by individuals planning to retire June 2020. In addition, we will complete recruitment of other academic positions currently advertised, including those that are funded through partnerships. See Status of Recruitments and Hires for a list of positions under recruitment now. That list does not reflect a few recent CE Advisor and CE Specialist hires who have not yet started.

I wish to thank the Program Council for their work providing recommendations to me. Likewise, I thank the County Directors, Program Team Leaders, Statewide Program/Institute Directors, REC Directors and Associate Deans for their efforts to identify priority needs.

I look forward to sending more of these notices soon!

Glenda Humiston
Vice President

 

Posted on Friday, December 20, 2019 at 1:12 PM

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