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CDC: Flu vaccine reduces a child’s risk of flu-related intensive care hospitalization by 74%

BY Michael Johnsen

ATLANTA — Getting a flu vaccine reduces a child’s risk of flu-related intensive care hospitalization by 74%, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study published Thursday in the Journal of Infectious Diseases.

The study is the first to estimate vaccine effectiveness against flu admissions to pediatric intensive care units. It illustrates the important protection flu vaccine can provide to children against more serious flu outcomes. CDC recommends annual flu vaccination for everyone 6 months and older, and especially for children at high risk of serious flu-related complications.

“These study results underscore the importance of an annual flu vaccination, which can keep your child from ending up in the intensive care unit,” said Alicia Fry, a medical officer in the CDC’s influenza division. “It is extremely important that all children — especially children at high risk of flu complications — are protected from what can be a life-threatening illness."

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Actress Viola Davis joins the Safeway Foundation and EIF on child hunger program

BY Michael Johnsen

LOS ANGELES — Academy Award-nominated actress Viola Davis, together with the Safeway Foundation and the Entertainment Industry Foundation, on Thursday launched Hunger Is, a joint charitable program designed to raise awareness and funds to fight childhood hunger in the United States. The year-round campaign encourages individuals and communities to get involved in solving a widespread problem that too often goes unnoticed.

"One in five children in America struggle with hunger — that’s nearly seventeen million children. I was one of those children; I was the one in five," Davis said. "I am honored to join the Safeway Foundation and the Entertainment Industry Foundation to increase awareness and raise funds to help end childhood hunger."

Funds raised through the initiative will go toward programs focused on eradicating childhood hunger and improving health-related outcomes. During the inaugural year, breakfast programs will be the focus, giving children a healthy start to their day and the best chance to excel.

Research shows that children who eat breakfast have better school attendance and achieve higher math scores than children who lack adequate access to food.

"It is unacceptable that millions of children in this country go hungry each day. The good news is that we can make a difference in their lives and send them to class ready and able to learn," stated Larree Renda, Safeway EVP and chair of the Safeway Foundation.

Safeway shoppers will also have multiple opportunities to give during an in-store Childhood Hunger awareness fundraiser during the month of April at more than 1,300 Safeway stores across the United States.

"We are so grateful to Viola Davis for her profound generosity in sharing her personal story and lending her powerful voice to this campaign," commented EIF president and CEO Lisa Paulsen. "Too many kids are not getting the nutrition they need to reach their full potential, and we’re privileged to work with the Safeway Foundation to engage communities across the country in helping to change that."

 

 

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NACDS to Senate Committee: ‘Preserve pharmacy access, choice for Tricare patients’

BY Antoinette Alexander

ARLINGTON, Va. — The National Association of Chain Drug Stores is urging a Senate Committee to help preserve pharmacy access and choice for Tricare patients, citing in a written statement the importance of advancing policies that control healthcare costs and preserve patient access to the nation’s community pharmacies.

The subcommittee held a hearing this week titled, “Active, Guard, Reserve and Civilian Personnel Programs.”

In a written statement to the subcommittee, NACDS emphasized that local pharmacies are not only a reliable, convenient source for obtaining prescription drugs, but also a healthcare destination.

“The proximity of community pharmacies to each and every American and pharmacists’ exceptional knowledge and training render pharmacies uniquely positioned to provide care for the American public,” NACDS said in its statement.

The comments cite concerns about proposed changes in the President’s FY2015 budget to pharmacy co-payments that would shift Tricare patients away from local pharmacies and into the Tricare Mail Order Pharmacy program. According to the NACDS, this action would severely limit the ability of beneficiaries to obtain non-formulary medications from their neighborhood pharmacy.

“NACDS supports cost savings initiatives that preserve patient choice, but threatening beneficiary access to prescription medications and their preferred healthcare provider will only increase the use of more costly medical interventions, such as physician and emergency room visits and hospitalizations,” NACDS said in its statement.

NACDS cites another cost-savings solution is increasing the use of generic drugs by Tricare beneficiaries. The Department of Defense’s own analysis reveals that in the case of generic medications, mail order is more expensive than obtaining them from a retail community pharmacy.

“Partnering with local pharmacists, modest increases in generic utilization by Tricare beneficiaries would have a dramatic impact on the DoD budget,” NACDS said in its statement.

DoD has also recognized the cost-effectiveness of pharmacist-provided vaccinations and has authorized Tricare patients to obtain vaccinations at a retail network pharmacy for a $0 co-payment. In its final rule expanding the authority of retail pharmacies to provide vaccinations, the DoD cites cost-savings of nearly $1.5 million by expanding the portfolio of vaccines that Tricare patients may obtain from community pharmacies.

“Ensuring that Tricare beneficiaries have ready access to vaccine supplies allocated to private sector pharmacies will facilitate making vaccines appropriately available to high risk groups of Tricare beneficiaries,” NACDS said in its statement.

In its comments NACDS emphasizes the overall enhanced role of community pharmacy, including medication counseling and medication therapy management services to help patients take their medications as prescribed.

“Policymakers have begun to recognize the vital role that local pharmacists can play in improving medication adherence,” NACDS said in its statement, citing a growing body of evidence that improving medication adherence – including use of MTM to help patients take medications as prescribed – helps to enhance patient health and improve healthcare affordability.

Reports by the Congressional Budget Office and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, as well as articles in Health Affairs and the Journal of American Pharmacists, offer further support that appropriate medication use can improve health while lowering costs, NACDS noted.

“NACDS and the chain pharmacy industry are committed to partnering with Congress, the Department of Defense (DoD), and other healthcare providers to improve the quality and affordability of healthcare services,” NACDS said in its statement.

 

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