By NANCY WEST, InDepthNH.org
The state Department of Health and Human Services on Wednesday issued a health alert to medical providers, but not the general public, warning of increased respiratory virus activity and the expectation that levels of COVID-19 will increase in the coming weeks.
It’s just in time for families to reunite for the holidays, but the state has said little publicly what to expect except when asked reiterating the vague reference to expecting more from COVID. in the winter and urging people to get vaccinated.
According to the health alert, NH’s weekly flu surveillance report also shows an increasing number of flu virus detections reported by New Hampshire hospital labs.
“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 reads.
He provided these details to health care providers:
- It is recommended that anyone 6 months of age or older receive an annual flu shot; a high-dose or adjuvanted flu vaccine is best for adults 65 years of age or older.
- Anyone 6 months or older is recommended to complete a primary series of COVID-19 vaccines, and those 5 or older should also receive an updated bivalent Omicron booster.
COVID-19 vaccines can be given without regard to the schedule of other routine vaccines, the alert says, including simultaneous administration of COVID-19 and influenza vaccines on the same day.
Primary vaccination against COVID-19 in children and adolescents and the bivalent Omicron booster vaccination throughout New Hampshire remain low (see table).
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
Spokespersons for the Department of Health and Human Services and Governor Chris Sununu did not immediately respond to requests for additional information Wednesday evening.
Patients who do not have a primary care provider, or who cannot access Paxlovid through primary care, can be assessed and prescribed Paxlovid through the on-site medical services free telehealth program, or by calling 800-816-5803, the alert says .
The alert was distributed by state epidemiologist Dr. Benjamin Chan’s NH Health Alert Network to state health care providers as part of their monthly meetings.
The NH Public Health Services Division continues to host a monthly webinar for healthcare providers on the 2nd Thursday of each month to provide public health updates. The next webinar will take place on Thursday, December 8 from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m.
The November webinar has been canceled because it conflicts with NH’s annual immunization conference.