Flu Season is Here

This year’s flu vaccine was designed to protect against four distinct strains of the virus.

Flu season has arrived!

The best time to get vaccinated is September or October. The timing is a bit difficult to predict this year, because of the lack of flu virus activity since March 2020. Flu vaccine manufacturers are anticipating providing 188-200 million doses to the U.S. market. Of the children who have been vaccinated in 2021, a total of 68 percent were vaccinated in the doctor’s office, while adults sought vaccination at the pharmacy (39 percent) and doctor’s office (34 percent).

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you can get your flu and COVID-19 vaccinations at the same time. If you suspect that you currently have COVID, do not get the flu shot. If you previously had COVID and want to get your flu shot, you should follow your doctor’s guidance.

This year the flu vaccine has been formulated to fight A (H1N1 or H3N2) and B (Victoria or Yamagata) strains. The vaccine composition is based on the Southern Hemisphere’s experience with the flu. The vaccines are quadrivalent, meaning that they are created to protect against four virus strains.

The common symptoms associated with influenza include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffed nose, muscle or body aches, headache, fatigue or tiredness, and vomiting or diarrhea. Not everyone will have a fever with the flu. Children will more likely suffer from vomiting or diarrhea.

If you do contract the flu, the usual treatment is antiviral medications, which will shorten the duration by one or two days. These medications may also prevent severe complications of the flu, such as pneumonia. There are four Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved drugs that are recommended by the CDC to treat influenza, including:

  • Oseltamivir phosphate (available as a generic version or under the trade name Tamiflu®);
  • Zanamivir (trade name Relenza®);
  • Peramivir (trade name Rapivab®); and
  • Baloxavir marboxil (trade name Xofluza®).

The ICD-10-CM coding for the flu would be:

Z23 will capture the encounter for influenza immunization. This code includes all encounters for all types of immunizations.

J10.- is used for influenza identified as A, B, C, or H1N1. The fourth digit would identify any associated manifestations, with J10.1 being the default code. Under J10.1, there are coding instructions to also code associated pleural effusion or sinusitis, if applicable. Other manifestations that can be identified by the fourth character include pneumonia, gastrointestinal symptoms, encephalopathy, myocarditis, and otitis media. These codes also include code also instructions.

The ICD-10-PCS code assignment for the vaccination is 3E01340 for intramuscular injection of the flu vaccine. This code is not specific to the type of flu vaccine.

The best prevention for the flu is vaccination. So, I hope everyone will get their flu vaccination!

Programming Note: Listen to Laurie Johnson’s live Coding Report every Tuesday on Talk Ten Tuesdays, 10 Eastern.

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