As Arizona continues efforts to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19, state health agencies and the Governor’s Office are partnering with health care providers and businesses to prepare for the upcoming flu season by encouraging Arizonans to get the flu shot.

Governor Doug Ducey today was joined by leaders representing hospitals, pharmacies, doctors, nurses, public health, universities and more to announce a plan of action to increase influenza vaccination rates and urge Arizonans to get the flu shot. 

“The overlap of COVID-19 and flu season presents a perfect storm — and we aren’t taking any chances,” said Governor Ducey. “We are approaching this fall with a proactive mindset and plan of action to limit the impact of the flu and preserve hospital resources. I’m grateful to all our partners among health care, businesses, universities, public health and more for their help getting more flu shots to more people this year — especially those from underserved communities. I urge all Arizonans to get their flu shots. It’s never been more important to do so.” 

“Every Arizonan who can get the influenza vaccine should get it right away,” said Arizona Department of Health Services Director Dr. Cara Christ. “The influenza vaccine is safe and is the best prevention tool we have against the influenza virus. We need everyone to do their part to stop the spread of influenza and COVID-19 in our communities, starting now.”

“It’s important that all Arizonans have access to the flu vaccine this year, and we’re working especially hard to reach underserved communities across the state,” said Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) Director Jami Snyder. “The vaccine is safe and important — and it is readily available at pharmacies and health care sites throughout Arizona. Thank you to the pharmacies and providers that are getting the vaccine to Arizonans and keeping families safe and healthy.”  

“With the presence of COVID-19 already in our community, it’s likely that flu viruses and the virus that causes COVID-19 will both be spreading this fall,” said Equality Health Senior Vice President Anabell Castro Thompson. “For this reason, the flu vaccine is more important than ever to protect our community and elders, and individuals with vulnerable health conditions. Together, we can strengthen the health of individuals and communities.”

“It’s heartening to hear the plans the Governor and Dr. Christ have marshalled to protect the health and wellbeing of the people of Arizona during the upcoming influenza season,” said Valleywise Health President and CEO Steve Purves. “If you want to support our state’s health care heroes who are on the frontlines every day, please get a flu shot this year. We’re grateful for the hard work that health care workers, first responders, communities and local leaders have put in to keep our citizens healthy.”

Arizona is taking enhanced steps to expand access to the flu vaccine and encourage more Arizonans to get it. As part of these efforts, the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) is issuing an administrative action to enable certified pharmacists to administer the flu vaccine to children currently enrolled in AHCCCS and is increasing payments to providers for vaccine administration. In addition, AHCCCS is offering $10 gift cards to members who get their flu vaccine. Data from other states show these actions have increased the vaccine medication rates among Medicaid members by upwards of 50 percent.

“As a matter of public health, it is always important for Arizonans to receive a flu vaccine to help minimize community-wide infection and protect vulnerable populations,” said Jennifer Carusetta, Executive Director of the Health System Alliance of Arizona. “However, this year it is more important than ever that Arizonans heed the advice of public health experts and get a flu vaccine as we manage the COVID-19 pandemic in our state. This, along with continuing to wear masks and following CDC guidelines is how we can best protect our front-line healthcare workers and vulnerable loved ones from unnecessary illness and hospitalization.  We urge all Arizonans to contact their primary care physician, local pharmacy or community health center to schedule a flu vaccine and to continue to follow the CDC guidelines.”

Additional actions being taken by the Arizona Department of Health Services include:

• Significantly increasing the amount of influenza vaccines available to uninsured and underinsured Arizonans;

• Launching a public education campaign – “Roll Up Your Sleeve;”

• Partnering with health care providers and pharmacies;

• Conducting outreach to businesses, creating a “business toolkit.” The toolkit will provide information and resources, including guidance for businesses to set up their own flu vaccine clinics;

• Expanding the flu vaccine at COVID-19 testing sites;

• And creating an online “Vaccine Finder” available soon.

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