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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

UC ANR supporters give over $85,000 on #GivingTuesday

Thanks to everyone who participated, UC ANR's #GivingTuesday campaign was a tremendous success.

“We surpassed our goal of $60,000, raising $85,168,” said Mary Maffly Ciricillo, director of Annual Giving and Individual Gifts. “This is close to a 24 percent increase over last year's Giving Tuesday total of $68,322.”

As an added incentive to potential donors, ANR received over $37,000 in donations toward match challenge funds supporting all of UC ANR programs.

The California 4-H Foundation alone brought in over $32,000. Compared to 2016, there was a 250 percent increase in giving to UC ANR programs – including Master Gardeners, Master Food Preservers, IPM, the REC System, and county offices – totaling over $15,000.

The number of gifts received also rose, from 224 gifts in 2016 to 318 gifts this year. “We even received a gift designated to urban horticulture!” Ciricillo said.

In addition to raising money, the #GivingTuesday social media campaign helped raise the visibility of ANR programs. The Master Gardener Program team made a video of the unselfies posted on social media by their supporters: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xI_tVcNhBcQ.

“We appreciate everyone's cooperation in this fundraising effort and hope we can continue to build on our success for the next #GivingTuesday,” Ciricillo said. “These private funds will help us expand UC ANR's reach.”

Below is a list of funds donors selected to receive Giving Tuesday their gifts:

ANR - Master Gardener Annual Giving Fund

Alameda County Master Gardener Endowment Fund

Elkus Ranch Fund

San Mateo - 4-H Program - Various Donors

Statewide Master Gardener Endowment Fund

Sacramento County UCCE - Master Gardener Fund

Los Angeles County UCCE Fund

Orange County UCCE Fund

El Dorado County UCCE - Rangeland Fund

San Mateo/San Francisco UCCE - Master Gardener Fund

ANR - Giving Tuesday Match Fund

San Mateo County UCCE - MG Greenhouse

KREC - Kearney REC - Fund

SFREC - Sierra Foothill Research and Extension Center Fund

Sonoma County UCCE - Citizen Science Projects

"urban horticulture"

Los Angeles County UCCE - Master Gardeners

LREC - Lindove Field Station

El Dorado County UCCE - Master Gardeners - Various Dnrs

San Mateo/SF UCCE - Master Food Preserver

Fresno County UCCE

4-H Undesignated

"REC System"

Riverside County UCCE - Master Gardeners

Sutter-Yuba Counties UCCE - Master Gardeners

Merced County UCCE - Master Gardener Fund

UC California Naturalist Program

Ventura County UCCE - Master Gardener Fund

HREC - Hopland REC - Fund

"Marin Master Gardeners Opportunity Fund"

IPM - Program Fund

4-H Foundation UC Donor Funds

DREC - Desert REC FARM SMART Fund

Merced County Agriculture Extension and Research Endowment

Alameda County UCCE - Master Gardeners

UCCE Master Gardeners of Orange County

Orange County UCCE - Master Food Preserver Fund

Kern - 4-H Program - Various Donors

Colusa County UCCE - Master Gardener Program

Central Sierra - UCCE

Ventura County UCCE Fund

"Ventura County Master Gardeners"

San Joaquin County UCCE - Master Gardener Fund

ANR - California Naturalist Scholarship Fund

Statewide Program - Nutrition, Family and Consumer Sciences Program

ANR Informatics and GIS Fund

Nutrition Policy Institute General Fund

Plumas County UCCE - Project Learning Tree

ANR - Master Food Preservers Fund

California Institute for Water Resources

San Mateo County UCCE Fund

Santa Barbara County 4-H - Various Donors

Contra Costa County UCCE Fund

 

Posted on Wednesday, November 29, 2017 at 3:53 PM

See a sneak preview of UC ANR home page’s refreshed design

You are invited to review the new ucanr.edu design refresh.

Strategic Communications now has a Website Redesign Feedback survey that offers an opportunity for additional input. You'll find links to the proposed designs for desktop, tablet and smart phone. It shows the website interactions and a survey, where you can rate various elements of the website project and offer open-ended comments and ideas, at http://ucanr.edu/survey/survey.cfm?surveynumber=22172.

Please submit your feedback by Friday, Dec. 1.

Posted on Tuesday, November 28, 2017 at 1:52 PM

Names in the News

Megan Marotta
Marotta joins UC ANR as program integration coordinator

Megan Marotta joined UC ANR Youth Families and Communities Statewide Program team as a program integration coordinator in July and is working with five statewide programs: Master Gardeners, Master Food Preservers, 4-H Youth Development, UC CalFresh and the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP). Her position, which is new, provides an opportunity to capitalize on the partnerships and programming that already exist in each county.

Marotta brings more than 13 years of experience building partnerships in communities, the last 7 years as a program director for afterschool and summer programs in the Bay Area. She received a BA in psychology from Pepperdine University and a master's degree in organizational leadership from Chapman University.

Marotta is based at the UC ANR building in Davis and can be reached at (530) 750-1225 and mrmarotta@ucanr.edu.

From left, Megan Phillippi of Montana State University, Nancy Shelstad and Tim Ewers of Idaho State University, Jeannette Rea-Keywood of Rutgers University, and Kendra Lewis and JoLynn Miller accepted the Excellence in Teamwork Award.

4-H team wins national teamwork award

A multi-state group formed to study 4-H youth retention received the Excellence in Teamwork Award from the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents (NA4-HA). Kendra Lewis, 4-H academic coordinator for evaluation, and JoLynn Miller, 4-H youth development advisor for the Central Sierra Multi-county Partnership, accepted the award on Nov. 16 in Indianapolis at the NA4-HA Annual Conference.

The youth retention study is focused on understanding why youth and families join, drop out or stay in 4-H. By learning about these factors, youth recruitment and retention in 4-H can be improved. Being able to learn about these issues across states has been valuable as 4-H professionals create tools to help mitigate some of the issues learned from the study.

Since 2014, Lewis and Miller have been co-chairs of the group, which also includes UC Cooperative Extension 4-H advisors Marianne Bird, John Borba and Russell Hill, and specialist Kali Trzesniewski.

For California youth and families, the team has already created a New Family Handbook and a Project Leader Checklist to help leaders as they welcome new families. UC ANR is currently partnering with Cooperative Extension staff at University of Idaho, Rutgers University, University of Wyoming and Louisiana State University. 

The team won the California 4-H Association, Western Region of the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents, and National NAE4-HA awards for Excellence in Teamwork.

Blackburn and Lagura win NEAFCS research award

Mary Blackburn
Mary L. Blackburn, nutrition, family and consumer sciences advisor, and MaryAnn A. Lagura, early childhood program coordinator, both of UC Cooperative Extension in Alameda County, won first place in the Program Excellence Through Research Award category for their “Preschool Wellness Policy Development,” both in the nation and in the western region in the National Extension Association of Family & Consumer Sciences Annual Awards Program.

MaryAnn Lagura
In 2017, about 67,000 children in Alameda County participated in California's Child and Adult Care Food Program - Child Care and Adult Care Components. Of that number, about 12,000 (17.93 percent) of these children were at 319 sites operating without wellness policies. The early childhood obesity prevention initiative, funded by the Alameda County Health Department – Nutrition Services, was launched in 2014 to develop wellness policies at 20 preschools with 1,074 children in five cities in Alameda County. Blackburn and Lagura provided guidance and support to develop, approve and adopt policies to promote healthy eating, physical activity, environmental changes and model healthy behaviors. They also evaluated the outcomes.

At the end of the 2017 school year, 18 sites had fully implemented policies. Twelve are entering a third year and six are in the second year of implementation – two sites lost funding. Preliminary evaluations of the overall outcomes found goal achievements by all sites exceeded the total number of priority goals sites selected for the first year by a ratio of 2:1.

The award was presented at the annual NEAFCS Awards Ceremony in Omaha, Neb., on Oct. 18 and 19. 

Gerry poses with former recipients of the Lifetime Achievement Award. Front row, from left, are Nancy Hinkle, Gerry, and Dick Miller. Back row, from left, are Phil Kaufman, Chris Geden, Jerry Hogsette, Don Rutz, Dave Taylor, UC Riverside professor Brad Mullens and Wes Watson. Photo by Annie Rich

Gerry earns lifetime achievement award  

Alec Gerry, UC Cooperative Extension specialist and professor in the Department of Entomology at the UC Riverside, received the 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award in Veterinary Entomology. 

Gerry's outstanding contributions to animal health and productivity were recognized at the 61st Livestock Insect Workers Conference in Savannah, Ga., in June 2017. He serves as president of the Medical, Urban and Veterinary Entomology Section of the Entomological Society of America.

Last year Gerry was honored as a member of a multi-state research team for “S-1060: Fly Management in Animal Agriculture Systems and Impacts on Animal Health and Food Safety.” The 2016 Experiment Station Section Award for Excellence in Multi-State Research was given by USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), Cooperative Extension System and the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU).

To learn more about Gerry's research, visit http://veterinaryentomology.ucr.edu.

Posted on Tuesday, November 28, 2017 at 1:23 PM

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