Highmark Health, Allegheny Health Network launch flu vaccine awareness campaign

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As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, health officials are preparing for a potential ‘twindemic’ by urging the community to obtain flu vaccination.

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"This year, it is more important than ever to obtain vaccination against the flu."

To help ensure the health and safety of individuals and families in our communities this flu season, and to reduce strains on the health system that could result from a confluence of influenza and COVID-19 infections, Highmark Health and Allegheny Health Network (AHN) launched today a multimedia campaign to drive awareness about the importance of flu vaccination.

Themed “little shot, big impact,” this month-long campaign will deliver messages via print, digital and broadcast media which encourage the public to get their flu shot, and emphasize that doing so is safe, easy and effective.

An estimated 35.5 million people in the U.S. contracted flu during the 2018-2019 season, with more than 490,000 hospitalizations and more than 34,000 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Like COVID-19, flu is a contagious respiratory illness that can spread from person-to-person, between people who are in close contact with one another. Flu and COVID-19 can present similar symptoms such as fever, cough and shortness of breath, but are caused by different viruses. Those at highest risk for both diseases include older adults, people with certain underlying medical conditions and women who are pregnant. Young children are at higher risk of severe illness from flu.

“This year, it is more important than ever to obtain vaccination against the flu. Given that influenza and COVID-19 can present similarly, flu can likely be ruled out in most cases for individuals who have had their flu shot but begin to feel ill, enabling more rapid and effective interventions by clinicians,” said Brian Parker, MD, Chief Quality Officer. “More broadly, widespread flu vaccination will help to reduce the burden of flu illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths on the health care system, while importantly conserving medical resources for the care of patients with COVID-19.”

The exact timing and duration of flu seasons can vary, however influenza activity often begins to increase in October. The CDC recommends that people get a flu vaccine by the end of October. While the cost of a flu vaccine is covered by most health insurance plans, including Highmark, patients should review their specific plans to verify coverage.

To receive a flu shot at AHN, patients should call their primary care provider office or (412) DOCTORS (412-362-8677) to schedule an appointment, or request an appointment online at ahn.org/appointments. Many pharmacies also offer flu shots.

For additional information on the flu, the vaccine and how to stay safe this flu season, visit http://www.ahn.org/services/primary-care/flu-shot.html or faqs.discoverhighmark.com/flu-shot/.

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About the Allegheny Health Network
Allegheny Health Network (AHN.org), a Highmark Health company, is an integrated healthcare delivery system serving the greater Western Pennsylvania region. The Network is composed of 11 hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, Health + Wellness Pavilions, an employed physician organization, home and community based health services, a research institute and a group purchasing organization. The Network provides patients with access to a complete spectrum of advanced medical services, including nationally recognized programs for primary and emergency care, cardiovascular disease, cancer care, orthopedic surgery, neurology and neurosurgery, women’s health, diabetes and more. AHN employs approximately 21,000 people, has more than 2,500 physicians on its medical staff and serves as a clinical campus for Drexel University College of Medicine and the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine.

About Highmark Health
Highmark Health, a Pittsburgh, PA-based enterprise that employs more than 35,000 people who serve millions of Americans across the country, is the parent company of Highmark Inc., Allegheny Health Network, and HM Health Solutions. Highmark Inc. and its subsidiaries and affiliates provide health insurance to more than 5.6 million members in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Delaware as well as dental insurance, and related health products through a national network of diversified businesses. Allegheny Health Network is an integrated delivery network comprised of ten hospitals, more than 2,500 affiliated physicians, ambulatory surgery centers, an employed physician organization, home and community-based health services, a research institute, a group purchasing organization, and health and wellness pavilions in western Pennsylvania. HM Health Solutions is focused on meeting the information technology platform and other business needs of the Highmark Health enterprise as well as unaffiliated health insurance plans by providing proven business processes, expert knowledge, and integrated cloud-based platforms. To learn more, visit http://www.highmarkhealth.org.

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