fluIt’s coming up on the harvest season for infectious diseases, and many of our ADHS teams are gearing up. We’re monitoring the number of flu cases reported across the state (we’ve only had 1 in the last couple weeks), supporting distribution of flu vaccines, encouraging healthcare workers and the public to get vaccinated, and testing influenza specimens to identify circulating strains and detect potential drug resistance.

National and international partners are also on task.  CDC is maintaining influenza surveillance and laboratory capacity, promoting influenza education, partnering with the WHO for global pandemic preparation, and making vaccination recommendations.  The WHO, in addition to ensuring global preparedness, is monitoring flu viruses circulating worldwide.  In the Southern hemisphere, most infections this season have caused by influenza A(H3N2), influenza B (Yamagata lineage), and influenza A(H1N1)pdm09.  These are the same strains that we saw here in Arizona last season, and are all covered in this year’s seasonal influenza vaccine.

The Arizona State Hospital has set a goal of vaccinating at least 80% of staff, residents, and patients this season.  We’re having a contest for patients with an award of a special dinner for the first unit that’s fully vaccinated.  Our first ASH staff clinic was September 10th, with 112 employees choosing to get vaccinated.  Our next ASH flu clinic is October 15th…and we’ll also be having RN’s provide influenza vaccine on the unit to staff.  For our downtown campus, we’ll be having a free influenza vaccine clinic on Wednesday, October 15 from 7:30 am to 10:30 am in the 4th floor training room of the 150 Building.

Last year over 12,000 Arizonans were sickened or hospitalized with the flu…and that’s just the number who got confirmatory testing. The flu season in Arizona usually begins around October…so now is the time to protect yourself, your family, and your community by getting vaccinated.