The TeamHeath Medical Call Center (THMCC) is one of the country’s most established, reputable and sought after providers of telephone nurse triage clinical care. Esteemed clients include academic medical centers, large multi-specialty practices, FQHCs, health plans and university student health services.

For more than 22 years and 11 million successfully managed calls, our team of highly skilled registered nurses know one thing is for certain: every year, the flu returns to wreak havoc on patients, providers, and all aspects of healthcare in general.

As you are reading this, the 2018-19 FLU SEASON is already beginning its annual intrusion.

THMCC is mindful of the valued role the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) plays in the management of influenza. We are proud to share the following pieces of vital information obtained from the CDC as well as the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) regarding flu management:

Last year’s outbreak was the worst in a decade. The CDC ranked it as a high severity season that started in November of 2017 and extended through March 2018. There were 30,453 laboratory-confirmed influenza-related hospitalizations in the United States.

The flu is devastating to the old and young. People 65 years and older accounted for approximately 58% of reported influenza-associated hospitalizations. As of August 25, 2018, a total of 180 pediatric deaths were reported to CDC during the 2017-2018 season. Approximately 80% of these deaths occurred in children who had not received a flu vaccination prior to or during that season.

Getting vaccinated in the most impactful, preventative measure to alleviate the effects of the flu. CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine as the first and most important step in protecting against influenza and its potentially serious complications. Flu vaccination can reduce flu illnesses, doctor visits, missed work and school due to flu, as well as prevent flu-related hospitalizations. Also, there is data to suggest that even if someone gets sick after vaccination, their illness may be milder. People at high risk of serious flu complications include young children, pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes or heart and lung disease, and people 65 years and older.

People who have the flu often feel some or all of these symptoms: Fever or feeling feverish/chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches and fatigue (tiredness). Some people may also have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.

Do insurance plans have to pay for flu vaccines? The HHS website states that flu and other vaccines are required to be covered by your health insurance without charging a co-payment or coinsurance, but be sure to check with your insurance company to find out if you must go to a specific facility to receive the vaccine. Some insurance plans only cover vaccines given by your doctor or at specific locations.

Experience is the best teacher. THMCC has more than 22 years of experience gained from caring for millions of patients. Preparation and compliance with the CDC recommendations will result in the best possible health outcomes we will all face during the upcoming 2018-19 FLU SEASON.

Gina Tabone, MSN, RNC serves as the Vice President of Strategic Clinical Solutions for the TeamHealth Medical Call Center.

Prior to joining TeamHealth, she served as the Administrator of Cleveland Clinic’s NURSE on CALL 24/7 nurse triage program. Under her direction, ED utilization declined, continuous care coordination improved, performance metric targets dropped from 33% ABD to less than 5%, URAC accreditation was achieved, and the call center grew from covering 350 physicians to the integration of more than 1,500 employed and affiliated providers.