By NANCY WEST, InDepthNH.org
The state Department of Health and Human Services issued a Health Alert Wednesday to medical providers, but not to the general public, warning about increased respiratory virus activity and the expectation that COVID-19 levels will increase in the coming weeks.
That is just in time for families to gather for holiday celebrations, but the state has said little publicly about what to expect, except when questioned reiterating the vague reference to expecting more COVID in the winter and urging people to get vaccinated.
According to the health alert, NH’s Weekly Influenza Surveillance Report also shows an increasing number of influenza virus detections reported by New Hampshire hospital laboratories.
“Anyone who has not received an updated influenza vaccine this season, or who has not received all recommended COVID-19 vaccines should be vaccinated now,” the alert says.
It provided these details for healthcare providers:
- Everyone 6 months of age or older is recommended to receive an annual influenza vaccine; a high-dose or adjuvanted flu vaccine is preferred for adults 65 years of age or older.
- Everyone 6 months of age or older is recommended to complete a COVID-19 vaccine primary series, and persons 5 years of age or older should also receive an updated bivalent Omicron booster.
COVID-19 vaccines may be administered without regard to timing of other routine vaccines, the alert states, including simultaneous administration of COVID-19 and influenza vaccines on the same day.
COVID-19 primary series vaccination in children and adolescents, and bivalent Omicron booster vaccination overall in New Hampshire remains low (see chart).
InDepthNH.org obtained the health alert from a healthcare provider. It also discusses outpatient treatment with Paxlovid for patients with COVID-19 and a report from the Centers for Disease Control. It is attached here. https://indepthnh.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/HAN_COVID-19_Update-68-and-Other-Res-1.pdf
Spokesmen for the Department of Health and Human Services and Gov. Chris Sununu did not immediately respond to requests for more information early Wednesday evening.
Patients who do not have a primary care provider, or who are unable to access Paxlovid through primary care, can be evaluated and prescribed Paxlovid through On-site Medical Services’ free telehealth program, or by calling 800-816-5803, the alert states.
The alert was distributed by the NH Health Alert Network from state epidemiologist Dr. Benjamin Chan to healthcare providers around the state as part of their monthly meetings.
The NH Division of Public Health Services continues to host a monthly healthcare provider webinar on the 2nd Thursday of each month to provide public health updates. The next webinar will be Thursday, Dec. 8 from 12 to 1 p.m.
The November webinar was cancelled because it conflicts with the annual NH Immunization Conference.