Support Groups Remain on Hold Because of COVID-19

Jefferson Community Health & Life has been offering support groups for those with Parkinson’s and for caregivers of those with Alzheimer’s disease for many years. Both groups were put on hold in March because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Both support groups currently remain on hold indefinitely,  said Lana Likens, director of public relations, marketing and development at JCH&L.

“Neither the Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s associations are hosting or recommending in-person support group meetings at this time,”  Likens said. “Jefferson Community Health & Life is also not promoting public group activities or events in its facilities at this time.”

While JCH&L has been hosting blood drives and Electronic Health Record reservation events in its facilities, they are events which are geared to reservations and small numbers of participants present at a time. Flu shot clinics are also being planned for October, and will be on an appointment basis to prevent crowded conditions.

“We do plan to resume support groups in the future, and will continue to monitor community, area and state COVID-19 conditions, as well as recommendations from the Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s associations who we partner with for support groups, in making those decisions,” Likens said. “The safety our community and participants is of utmost importance.”

Both associations are offering a variety of virtual support groups.  For information on Nebraska Parkinson’s virtual support groups, call 402-559-8600. For information on Alzheimer’s virtual support groups, go to alz.org, or call the 24-hour helpline at 800-272-3900.

A support group is a gathering of people with common problems, needs and interests which allows them to share their feelings, thoughts and experiences in a combined effort to survive the shared problems. It may include family members, caregivers, friends and other individuals interested in sharing information and giving and receiving support.

Anyone who would like further information in either of these support groups should contact Lana Likens at (402) 729-6855 or email lana.likens@jchealthandlife.org.

Influenza Immunization Important – Recommended in October

Influenza immunizations are important every year. But this year, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, influenza vaccinations are more important than ever, said Amber Brunow, infection preventionist with Jefferson Community Health & Life.

The CDC recommends annual influenza vaccination for everyone 6 months of age or older. The CDC recommends that vaccination be during October, if possible. Earlier vaccination could mean suboptimal immunity by the end of influenza season. Once the vaccine is administered, it takes about 2 weeks for peak immunity to develop. The flu season typically starts in about November, so October is optimal timing for most flu seasons.

The influenza virus can cause mild to severe symptoms, and can lead to death, especially among those who have additional risk factors: age (65 and older or 2 and younger), immune compromised, chronic  health conditions or pregnancy.

Influenza and COVID-19 are both respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses. Some symptoms are similar, so testing will typically be needed to determine whether a person has influenza or COVID-19. The CDC says it is possible for a person to have influenza and COVID-19 at the same time.

“The same measures which can protect us against COVID-19 can also protect us against influenza,” Brunow said. “Masking, social distancing, disinfecting surfaces, staying home when you are ill, and avoiding crowds are all great preventative measures from spreading influenza and COVID-19.”

Influenza vaccination clinics are being planned for Jefferson Community Health & Life for October. This year appointments will be required, and vaccinations can be billed to insurance or be private pay. Watch for flu shot clinic details in late September.

Influenza vaccinations will also be available during any health care appointments at Fairbury or Plymouth clinics.

Please note some information specific to children.

*Children 8 and under will need two doses of the influenza vaccination one month apart if they have not had the influenza vaccine before.

*Children 18 and under who are covered by Medicaid can’t get their flu vaccines at these special influenza clinics or at the Fairbury or Plymouth Clinic. They must use a clinic which participates in the Vaccines for Children program. The Blue Valley Community Action Immunization Clinic which holds clinics twice a month at JCH&L offers Vaccines for Children immunizations.