2017-2018 Flu Season Activity at Dangerous Levels
Posted February 5, 2018
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an official CDC health advisory earlier this year due to the increased number of flu cases. A health alert conveys the highest level of importance and warrants immediate action or attention.1
The CDC reports that the number of flu cases is three times higher than last year and is widespread across the U.S. with influenza A(H3N2) viruses predominating so far this season. A number of key flu indicators similar to what was seen at the peak of the 2014-2015 season, which was the most severe season in recent years, were present when the advisory was issued.1
The CDC expects the vaccine effectiveness (VE) against A(H3N2) viruses to be 32 percent this season, if the A(H3N2) virus continues to predominate.2 Despite the low VE, the CDC continues to recommend influenza vaccination for everyone 6 months of age and older as the best way to prevent illness and protect against flu complications. In addition, the CDC recommends antiviral medications, such as neuraminidase inhibitor (NAI), as an important second line of defense in treating influenza and reducing complications when treatment is started early.1
Typically, the peak of flu season occurs in February but activity can last as late as May.
In the past, A(H3N2) virus-predominant influenza seasons have been associated with more hospitalizations and deaths in persons aged 65 years and older and young children compared to other age groups.1
While many Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois (BCBSIL) members’ health benefit plans include influenza vaccination coverage with no member cost sharing, there are some exceptions. It is important to check eligibility and benefits information for details regarding copays, coinsurance and deductibles before administering the influenza vaccine to BCBSIL members.
1Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Seasonal Influenza A(H3N2) Activity and Antiviral Treatment of Patients with Influenza, https://emergency.cdc.gov/han/han00409.asp
The information mentioned here is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for the independent medical judgment of a physician. Members should refer to their certificate of coverage for more details, including benefits, limitations and exclusions. Regardless of benefits, the final decision about any medication is between the member and their health care provider.
Checking eligibility and/or benefit information is not a guarantee of payment. Benefits will be determined once a claim is received and will be based upon, among other things, the member’s eligibility and the terms of the member’s certificate of coverage applicable on the date services were rendered. If you have any questions, please call the number on the back of the member’s ID card.