Epidemiologists and Public Health officials are warning that the upcoming flu season could be severe due to complications resulting from COVID-19. With adults and children foregoing their annual flu vaccine, some officials are concerned that the most recent strain of influenza will wreak havoc on an already stressed U.S. healthcare system.
In response, STChealth and its partners in Public Health are rapidly developing solutions to increase flu vaccine coverage throughout the country. STChealth supports immunization data exchanges with all Public Health immunization systems in the U.S. and operates many of these Public Health data assets. In partnership with Wyoming’s Immunization Unit, a new data solution has been developed to help officials analyze flu vaccine coverage rates.
Michael L. Popovich, CEO of STChealth remarked, “Thanks to a vision provided by the Wyoming Immunization Program, STChealth was able to provide Wyoming insight on flu rates across the state using data from their Immunization Information System. We have seen how real-time data can have a positive influence on policy and decision making.”
Jude Alden, Wyoming’s Immunization Unit Manager indicated, “This data is already in our Immunization Information System. If we can use the data to quickly assess gaps in immunization coverage, we can develop campaigns and partnerships to reduce the risk of vaccine-preventable disease. The flu dashboard provided by STChealth will be critical for increasing flu vaccine coverage rates in Wyoming.”
Our epidemiologic and immunologic knowledge of influenza has improved over the past several decades, the tools of which have enabled us to better predict and prepare for the upcoming season. STChealth’s Epidemiologist, Dr. Kyle Freese, recently demonstrated the value of macro-geographical visualizations to identify hot spots of infection and illness, including the demographics of those most affected. Dr. Freese mentioned, “Most current analytical tools are limited in scope or do not provide the granularity to inform public health professionals in real-time which communities are at risk. The Wyoming Flu Dashboard solves this problem.”
STChealth has provided Flu dashboards to 12 State Immunization Programs at no cost. These 12 programs plan to leverage immunization intelligence to identify at-risk segments of their populations and increase flu vaccine coverage rates both within at-risk segments and throughout the overall population. If flu vaccine coverage rates can be increased using data to influence campaigns, the risks of the upcoming flu season can be lessened.