JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The Missouri Hospital Association and Hospital Industry Data Institute added a new tab to their COVID-19 interactive dashboard, providing data on influenza and influenza-like illness. The data will help hospitals manage health care resources during a flu season that will occur as COVID-19 continues to progress through Missouri communities.
“A severe influenza season alone can cause significant strain on hospital and health care resources,” said Herb B. Kuhn, MHA President and CEO. “With COVID-19 positive case rates increasing, and hospitalizations at or near record high levels, the challenge of a significant flu surge could stress hospital resources to the maximum.”
Flu season occurs annually, and the severity varies year-to-year. One factor that can influence the rate of illness and the need for hospital and health care resources is vaccination. Unlike COVID-19, a seasonal flu vaccine is readily available to most Missourians.
“Missourians should receive their influenza vaccination as soon as possible,” said Gov. Mike Parson. “Vaccination is an essential tool in keeping virus rates low and maintaining our hospital and health care resources through the end of flu season.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, and Missouri’s hospitals continue to encourage Missourians to seek a flu shot as early as possible in the season — which traditionally peaks between November and March in the state. Vaccination rates generally correlate with the number of individuals needing care for influenza. The influenza vaccine currently is widely available.
This new addition to the dashboard also includes information on statewide vaccination rates, and flu and ILI prevalence throughout the past five years. This historical data confirms that our most severe flu outbreak years also were the years we had the lowest level of vaccination rates.
“The new data will help hospitals manage resources individually and within the communities they serve by providing insights into patient utilization for influenza, the status of health care resources and vaccination trends,” Kuhn said. “These data are essential as we address staff and space needs for what could be a ‘twindemic’ of flu and COVID-19 in Missouri.”
MHA’s hospital resource-focused dashboards are available at www.mhanet.com.