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Ballad Health urges flu vaccines amid COVID-19 pandemic

BY BRITTNEE NAVE
STAR CORRESPONDENT
Ballad Health officials urged following precautionary measures for the impending flu season during their weekly media briefing on Wednesday.
 
Jamie Swift, Chief Infection Prevention Officer, discussed the importance of taking preventative measures against influenza during the COVID-19 pandemic. 
 
“In the coming months and weeks, not only will we be fighting this COVID-19 pandemic, but we’ll also be facing our yearly flu season,” she said. “We urge precautions and safety measures every year. This year, they’re particularly crucial.”
 
Swift urged everyone to obtain flu vaccinations for everyone 6 months of age and older, especially the elderly and those with chronic health conditions. Flu vaccines are now available.
 
“It’s safe and effective,” she said, “it could even save your life, especially if you have chronic health conditions.”
 
The hope is that this flu season will be milder with vaccinations, masking, and hand hygiene. 
 
Along with flu vaccines to aid in combating the impending flu season, Ballad Health officials also urged people to continue wearing masks and following guidelines in place are still recommended to slow the spread of COVID-19.
 
Eric Deaton, Chief Operating Officer, shared the latest models on the virus and expressed hope that there can be a continued trend to flatten the curve moving forward. 
 
Deaton also shared the latest news from the Tennessee Department of Health.
 
The department is no longer showing numbers of recovered cases, but rather including a number of inactive/recovered cases.
 
The inactive/recovered cases include people who are 14 days or more from the onset of COVID-19 symptoms. He explained that those who are asymptomatic are considered inactive/recovered when they are 14 days out from their testing date. 
 
“In this case, the Tennessee Department of Health has modified its reporting to align with new CDC data, which shows most patients with COVID-19 are no longer infectious after 10 days,” he said. “Previously, Tennessee considered a case recovered after a 21-day period.”
 
He stressed that despite this change in reporting, the numbers remain accurate.
 
Following updates from Deaton, Dr. Clay Runnels, Chief Physician Executive, provided updates on Convalescent Plasma.
 
He said to date, 361 plasma units have been given to patients with the virus, and 473 units have been donated by those who have recovered. 
 
For the latest information on Ballad Health, go to www.balladhealth.org. To find out about qualifying to donate Convalescent Plasma, call the Marsh Regional Blood Center at 423-203-5640.