Plus, the latest pharmacy and healthcare news to know this week.
Chain pharmacies in the U.S. are expecting an increase in flu vaccinations this coming season. The push is driven by concerns about the possibility of another wave of COVID-19 infections this fall.
Why It Matters
According to Reuters, chain pharmacies CVS, Rite Aid, Walgreens, and Walmart are preparing to meet potentially higher demands for flu vaccines. Rite Aid, for one, has ordered 40% more vaccine doses. A recent Reuters/Ipsos poll suggests the pharmacies’ expectations are in line with patient plans. Of the 4,428 U.S. adults surveyed, 60% said they plan to get a flu shot this year.
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The flu season in the U.S. typically lasts from October to May and peaks between December and February. In the last flu season, the CDC estimates there were up to 62,000 deaths and 740,000 flu-related hospitalizations. While a vaccine is still in development for COVID-19, the importance of being vaccinated against the flu grows. The increase in flu vaccinations would help keep hospitals from being overwhelmed with both flu and coronavirus patients should a second COVID-19 wave occur. As states begin to reopen and loosen social distancing restrictions, public health experts have expressed concerns that a second wave of the virus is likely.
Other healthcare news to know:
1. New guidance from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) overrides state and local rules preventing pharmacists from administering COVID-19 tests. Drug Topics.
2. HHS also provided $225 million to rural health clinics to boost COVID-19 testing. Becker’s Hospital Review.
3. CMS released a final rule allowing Medicare Advantage plans more flexibility to offer telehealth services. FierceHealthcare.
4. Medicare will offer plans next year with a voluntary benefit that caps insulin copays at $35 a month. Associated Press.
5. The FDA has identified 27 coronavirus antibody tests that should no longer be sold in the U.S. Reuters.