Practice Category

Patients in the 50- to 59-year-old age range should receive vaccination against shingles, according to the latest recommendation from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). That guidance accompanied a rare—and nearly evenly split—nod to one vaccine over another. In an 8-7 vote, ACIP recommended the recently approved Shingrix (GlaxoSmithKline) over Zostavex (Merck). Both vaccines are FDA-approved for use in patients 50 and over, but ACIP recommends Zostavex only in patients over the age of 60. ACIP recommendations are not binding, but typically are a precursor to official guidelines fromRead More
National urgent care operator American Family Care (AFC) is going to offer free flu shots to Americans who have served in the military this Veterans Day (Saturday, November 11). It’s actually taking a page from the military’s own book, as the U.S. armed services was the first body to initiate an influenza vaccination policy back in the 1940s. The Veterans Day effort goes beyond a feel-good publicity campaign, owing to the fact that veterans tend to be older and have more chronic health concerns than the general adult population, puttingRead More
A new predictive model from the University of Chicago indicates we should prepare for a flu season that’s “worse than average.” One important indicator in the model is the severity of flu in Australia, where the seasons are ahead of those in the U.S.; Australians just suffered through their worst flu season on record. The data underscore the importance of getting immunized early in the season—as in, now—especially for those at highest risk, such as healthcare professionals, older adults, pregnant women, the chronically ill, and young children. It should alsoRead More
Despite the fact that pregnant women and infants are increased risk for severe, influenza-related illness, nearly half of women approaching childbirth fail to get a flu shot, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, in a recently published study, the CDC also found that simply offering to give a pregnant woman a flu shot increased the rate of coverage from 56% to around 70%. The report is careful to distinguish making a recommendation (eg, “You should consider getting a flu shot”) from extending an offer (“We canRead More
It’s common for patients complaining of fatigue, fever, stiff joints, and overall body aches and malaise to seek treatment in an urgent care center. Depending on the season and what examination reveals—a telltale bullseye rash, for example—the clinician might suspect Lyme disease and be inclined to suggest the patient see another provider for testing and treatment. Even if they’re able to test on site, the patient would have to wait several days for the results and probably see another provider for follow-up. However, a new point-of-care test could allow atRead More
The Urgent Care Association of America has launched a public-facing campaign to get consumers to head to their local urgent care center to ward off influenza, now that the season has officially begun. In addition to stressing that the urgent care center is “the best place to receive flu vaccinations and other key winter healthcare services,” UCAOA’s message also focuses on herd immunity—the notion that higher immunization rates will result in lower incidence of illness across the board, not just in individuals who get the vaccine. UCAOA President Pamela Sullivan,Read More
The FDA may have limited authority to reduce the number of opioid medications in circulation at any given time, but its commissioner, Scott Gottlieb, MD, is appealing to urgent care physicians, and prescribers everywhere, to take action. For starters, he said, the agency would like to construct “expert guidelines” informed by the medical community, with the idea that those guidelines could ultimately be reflected in drug labeling (over with the FDA does have authority). Speaking at a special session during the annual meeting of the National Academy of Medicine, GottliebRead More
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) now allows any state-licensed physician to perform medical exams for the half a million private and recreational pilots flying certain small noncommercial aircraft in the U.S., as long as they follow a simple FAA checklist. So far, more than 20,000 pilots have been qualified to fly under the program, called BasicMed. The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association is actively promoting the program to its members and to medical associations in order to provide pilots with content and resources (and, presumably, to prevent any backlog ofRead More
Just the other day we shared data indicating that healthcare professionals are far less inclined to get a flu shot if their workplace doesn’t require it or offer the immunizations on site. Now comes word from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that the whole country’s influenza vaccination rate has plateaued—leaving us all at higher risk for an outbreak. New figures from the CDC reveal that since the 2013-2014 season, the rate for adults has hovered around 43% and remains stuck at approximately 59% for children. The CDC isRead More
Despite longstanding advice that people over the age of 6 months should be vaccinated against influenza, more than half of healthcare professionals (HCPs) opt out unless they’re required to get a shot by their employers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than 75% of HCPs got a flu shot in preparation for the 2016-2017 flu season—but in clinics and other settings where vaccination was not “required, promoted, or offered on site,” only 46% of HCPs followed through with getting a shot. Where flu shots were required,Read More