Feb 11, 2021 in Health

Flu Season. Avoiding a Flu Epidemic

Critical Background Information

The problem of influenza is widely discussed by medical scholars and healthcare professionals nowadays. The main reason of this fact is that flu virus undergoes numerous modifications, and it becomes more complicated to prevent and treat it. Each new strain requires a thorough research. Aschenbrenner , Pelletier, Yu & Fang write that in the United States alone, annual epidemics cause approximately 300,000 hospitalizations and 36,000 deaths. As a flu season 2016-2017 has already arrived, all corresponding services and department should unite their efforts to prevent the epidemic. This paper focuses on the community of Fort Myers, FL. Being a policy advisor, I have prepared a policy memo for the state governor to objectively assess the flu situation in the region and to take the recommended measures.

An important action, which the Florida Department of Health regularly takes, is gathering statistical information about flu epidemic in the region. In the report of 2016-2017 it is indicated that influenza activity increased, but remains at low levels across the state. However, the level of children respiratory infections is higher than in the previous years and they can develop flu. The number of patients with influenza is predicted to grow and the most common type of it is A. An The number of visits to physicians with respiratory and flu complains grows and physicians predict that the state may wait for an outbreak of pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5 virus, which is brought by birds. Therefore, the community of Florida, namely the country of Fort Myers, should take some rapid actions to face the health challenge.


An Influence of Florida Legislature, Juridical System and Governmental Agencies on Anti-Influenza Policy

Besides the discussed statistical data, the Florida Department of Health receives support from the existing governmental organizations and societies in the process of fighting with an influenza epidemic. It was already defined that the most effective method of flue prevention is timely vaccination and this conclusion is supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. To ensure the implementation of this legislation, the Florida Statues of 2016 state that each hospital licensed pursuant to chapter 395 shall implement a program to offer immunizations against the influenza virus and pneumococcal bacteria to all patients age 65 or older. This initiative is also supported by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices of the United States. Therefore, the scientific research and measures to prevent flu epidemic are controlled by the U.S. health agencies and organizations and Florida juridical system. However, it is logic that immunization should be offered to children and people, younger than 65 years old.

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An Influence of Interest Groups, Political Parties and the Media in the Influenza Vaccination Policy

As the vaccination policy is confirmed to be the policy at hand, it arouses many questions. First of all, media resources with the participation of medical scholars and specialists actively discuss the issue of what is better for an individual: to have an anti-flue immunization infection or not to be afraid of the virus, entering his or her body and receive the consequent antibodies, which will not give the second chance of influenza. It is important to note that just over half of patients infected with the 2009 H1N1 flu still had an antibody response after six months, while only about a third of vaccinated subjects did. However, when a person is infected with flue, he or she feels terrible, misses studies or work and one strain of virus infection does not guarantee that he or she receives immunity from some other mutated strain. Therefore, this approach of media and medical workers makes some people hesitate about being immunized for influenza.

It is worth noting that some political parties and separate politicians also impact the vaccination policy to prevent influenza. Pediatricians are not sure whether they should insist on vaccination of the children, whose parents think that influenza immunization can be harmful. There is not a commonly accepted policy for such cases and parents have even more doubts, when President-elect Donald Trump claimed that vaccines cause autism.. His supporters share their opinion. Thus, media resources, interest groups and political parties should come to one single conclusion about the necessity of flu vaccination and enforce it in Florida and all other U.S. states. Otherwise their influence is devastating.

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Solutions to Support Influenza Vaccination Policy

There is enough evidence and support of authorized organizations of the influenza vaccination policy. Scientific research confirms the fact that Although social distancing and the use of antiviral agents can be partially effective at slowing spread, vaccination remains the most effective means of pandemic influenza control.. Some possible solutions to support flu vaccination policy and prevent an epidemic may include: (1) distribution of illustrative materials, which tell about the usefulness of vaccination and absence of such complications as development of child autism; (2) hospital settings, which strongly recommend flu vaccination to all age groups; (3) public presentations and speeches of authorities medical specialists, who will tell about the use of vaccination.

An issue which is worth special attention in the aspect of flu vaccination is the provision of vaccines to all hospital settings. Yang et al.  write that more than 20 U.S. companies decided to start the production of the vaccine against influenza A (H1N1). However, some problems exist in this aspect, because the efficiency of this vaccine should be properly checked. Virus mutations can create additional obstacles. There are also some problems related to the delay of delivery of the vaccine to the corresponding hospital settings. Aschenbrenner et al write that inactivated live human influenza vaccines are worldwide used, but they need constant updating. Taking into consideration the aforesaid, a good solution can be to increase the level of scientific research and production of flu vaccine in Florida and the United States.

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A Recommended Strategy

I strongly recommend common influenza vaccination in Fort Myers and Florida. In the conditions of the approaching epidemic and media propoganda, it is possible to support a multilayer strategy, offered by Halloran et al., who insist on the fact that a combination of targeted household antiviral prophylaxis, and social distancing measures could substantially lower the illness attack rate before a highly efficacious vaccine could become available.. The words of the scholars can be supported by a number of simulation trials, which they performed. They recommend to timely close schools and other establishments, where children get together and isolate elderly members of families from flu-infected patients for a certain period of time. The authors recognize that this complex strategy cannot substitute vaccination. However, when some effective vaccines are still at the stage of development and there are some parents, who suppose that influenza vaccination of their children is harmful, there strategies can be very useful. Therefore, my recommendation to Florida governor is to promote flu vaccination, when it is available, and named measures as a complex preventive approach.


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