Flu Shots Beginning in October

It’s hard to believe that we’re over half way through September and the dreaded cold and flu season is around the corner.  Piedmont Family Practice wants you to know the facts as presented by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for the 2019-2020 flu season.

According to the CDC, “There are many different flu viruses and they are constantly changing. The composition of U.S. flu vaccines is reviewed annually and updated as needed to match circulating flu viruses.

Flu vaccines protect against the three or four viruses (depending on the vaccine) that research suggests will be most common. For 2019-2020, trivalent (three-component) vaccines are recommended to contain:

  • A/Brisbane/02/2018 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus (updated)
  • A/Kansas/14/2017 (H3N2)-like virus (updated)
  • B/Colorado/06/2017-like (Victoria lineage) virus

Quadrivalent (four-component) vaccines, which protect against a second lineage of B viruses, are recommended to contain:

  • the three recommended viruses above, plus B/Phuket/3073/2013-like (Yamagata lineage) virus.”

Who Should Get the Flu Vaccine?

Everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccine every season. Vaccination is particularly important for people who are at high risk of serious complications from influenza.

High risk groups include:  Adults 65 years and older, pregnant women, young children, people with asthma, heart disease & stroke, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, cancer and children with neurologic conditions

What Complications Can Occur with Flu?

Most people who get flu will recover in a few days to less than two weeks, but some people will develop complications (such as pneumonia) as a result of flu, some of which can be life-threatening and result in death.

Sinus and ear infections are examples of moderate complications from flu, while pneumonia is a serious flu complication that can result from either influenza virus infection alone or from co-infection of flu virus and bacteria. Other possible serious complications triggered by flu can include inflammation of the heart (myocarditis), brain (encephalitis) or muscle (myositis, rhabdomyolysis) tissues, and multi-organ failure (for example, respiratory and kidney failure).

Flu vaccination has important benefits. It can reduce flu illnesses, doctors’ visits, and missed work and school due to flu, as well as prevent flu-related hospitalizations. Flu vaccine also has been shown to be life-saving in children.

How much flu vaccine will be available this season?

Flu vaccine is produced by private manufacturers, so supply depends on manufacturers. For the 2019-2020 season, manufacturers have projected they will provide between 162 million and 169 million doses of vaccine for the U.S. market. (Projections may change as the season progresses.) Flu vaccine supply updates will be provided as they become available at Seasonal Influenza Vaccine & Total Doses Distributed.

When Should You Get the Flu Shot?

Flu season can run from October to May, with most cases happening from late December to early March. The optimal time to get the flu vaccine is October to mid-November.  Getting vaccinated before the flu season is in full force gives the body a chance to build up immunity to (protection from) the virus.

Both Piedmont Family Practice and Piedmont Urgent Care will be administering flu vaccines through the flu season.  You can call today to schedule your flu vaccine appointment in October.

Click on the link to view a graphic showing the flu season for 2018-2019 lasted from October 1-7, 2018 (week 40) until May 27-31, 2019 (week 22) with the peak of flu season at February 18-24, 2019 (week 8).


Link for more informational graphics:



CDC Announces Shortage that Affects TB Testing

Patients of Piedmont Family Practice.

We wanted to make you aware that there is a PPD Shortage as presented by the CDC (https://emergency.cdc.gov/han/han00420.asp)

What is PPD?

APLISOL® is one of two purified-protein derivative (PPD) tuberculin antigens that are licensed by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in performing tuberculin skin tests (TST).

How are TB tests performed?

Two types of immunological methods are used for detecting Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection: tuberculin skin tests (TSTs) and interferon-gamma release assay (IGRA) blood tests.

What does that mean to you?

Due to the PPD shortage, Piedmont Family Practice will perform the TST only for High-risk groups for TB infection.  High risk groups for TB infection include:

  • People who are recent contacts exposed to persons with TB disease;
  • People born in or who frequently travel to countries where TB disease is common;
  • People who currently or used to live in large group settings, such as homeless shelters or correctional facilities;
  • People with weaker immune systems, such as those with certain health conditions or taking certain medications that may alter immunity; and
  • Children, especially those under age 5, if they are in one of the risk groups noted above.

If I don’t fall into High Risk, what is the alternative for being tested?

Any patient that does not fall under “High Risk” may receive a blood-test.  The expected cost for the blood test is $240.00.  If you, the patient has insurance, $240 will be billed to your insurance and the remainder will be your responsibility.   Piedmont Family Practice highly recommends you contact your insurance company for an expected cost.

What do I ask my insurance company?

The name of the blood-test is QuantiFERON-TB Gold (QFT-G). You, the patient, need to ask your insurance company for a cost estimate.

The staff and providers of Piedmont Family Practice are here to serve you and answer your questions about this shortage during your appointment if TB is suspected.




Talking about Nation’s Top Health Issues

What is Good Health?

Health can be defined as physical, mental and social well-being; the absence of disease and the ability to recover from illness. Good health also includes genetics, your environment, relationships and education.  Other factors that can enhance a person’s health are; healthful diet, exercise, and wellness visits and screening.

If you’re not feeling in “Good Health,” it’s time to make an appointment with your provider and talk about your concerns.  Below are our nation’s top health concerns.

How is Health Categorized?

The top 7 national health conditions fall into three groups: physical, mental and unique health conditions, which together paint a complicated picture of health in America.  The Blue Cross Blue Shield System (BCBS) created a first-of-its-kind metric for measuring Americans’ health from birth to age 64.  The BCBS Health Index highlights which illnesses — from major depression to substance use disorder —are lowering the quality of life of people across the nation.


Hypertension – More commonly known as high blood pressure, hypertension is “a common disease in which blood flows through blood vessels, or arteries, at higher than normal pressures,” according to the . Hypertension occurs when the force against the artery walls is too high, which can cause heart attack or stroke. It can be associated with advanced age, obesity, smoking and stress. Hypertension is also known as the silent killer because it has no early significant symptoms but creates an extra load on the heart and blood vessels.

There are four stages of high blood pressure or hypertension:

STAGE 1 or Prehypertension is 120/80 to 139/89.

STAGE 2 or Mild Hypertension is 140/90 to 159/99.

STAGE 3 or Moderate Hypertension is 160/100 to 179/109.

STAGE 4 or Severe Hypertension is 180/110 or higher.

High Cholesterol – When levels of cholesterol are too high, fatty deposits can begin to build up in blood vessels and arteries, restricting blood flow. High cholesterol, which can be hereditary or from the result of unhealthy diet and lifestyle choices, can increase the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Total cholesterol levels less than 200 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) are considered desirable for adults. A reading between 200 and 239 mg/dL is considered borderline high and a reading of 240 mg/dL and above is considered high. LDL cholesterol levels “The Bad Cholesterol,” should be less than 100 mg/dL.

Coronary Artery Disease – High blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking and diabetes can all damage or injure the inner layer of coronary arteries. Over time, the damage can worsen and become coronary artery disease, putting you at much higher risk of heart attack.

Type 2 Diabetes – In people with diabetes, blood sugar levels rise higher than normal. Type 2 diabetes, the most common form of the disease, is caused by obesity and lack of physical activity in about 90% of cases in the U.S.


Major Depression – Major depression, which frequently goes undiagnosed or untreated, is a mental illness characterized by a constant sense of hopelessness and despair, making it difficult to work, sleep or eat. The condition affects adults, teens and children.


Substance Use Disorder – Also known as a drug use disorder, a substance use disorder involves an overuse of, or dependence on, a medication or toxin. Addiction can cause serious mental and physical injury, overdose and even death.

Alcohol Use Disorder – The National Institutes of Health as a “chronic relapsing brain disease characterized by compulsive alcohol use, loss of control over alcohol intake, and a negative emotional state when not using.” Very high blood alcohol levels can result in coma or death, and withdrawal from alcohol can cause hallucinations or even seizures.

Talking With Your Doctor about Your Health Concerns

Through preventative care, we hope that the top health concerns do not relate to you.  However, if they do – much of the communication between doctor and patient is personal. To have a good partnership with your doctor, it is important to talk about sensitive subjects, like sex, memory problems, weight management and substance abuse; even if you are embarrassed or uncomfortable.  Most doctors are used to talking about personal matters and will try to ease your discomfort.  This is especially true of Piedmont Family Practice providers, where we try to treat you like family.

If any of the top National Health Concerns are personal concerns for you, now is the time to schedule an appointment with your provider and have serious conversations.  Health isn’t a “One Size Fits All.”  Living your best healthful life starts with having open and honest conversations and developing a health plan that’s as unique as you are.

Summer Safety & Physicals

All of the providers at Piedmont Family Practice want to make sure you’re reminded of Summer Fun Safety.   Also, a reminder to schedule Child Wellness Visits and Sports Physicals as soon as possible to beat the back to school rush.

Summer Safety Tips:

  • If you’ve been bitten by a tick and develops symptoms (bulls eye looking bite, or rash), we recommend an office visit. If you’re unable to identify the type of tick and you still have the tick, bring it into your appointment in a closed clear bag like a Ziploc for the physician to identify.
  • To ward off bug bites, we recommend insect repellent with EPA-registered ingredients and to avoid perfumes and scented hair products while outdoors.
  • Limit time in the sun, especially between the hours of 10AM and 2PM, when the sun’s rays are most intense.
  • Use broad spectrum sunscreens with SPF values of 15 or higher, reapplying it at least every two hours and more often if you’re sweating or jumping in and out of the water.
  • Protect your eyes with sunglasses labeled with a UVA/UVB rating of 100% to get the most UV protection.

Do not mistake dark-tinted sunglasses as having more UV protection. Many sunglasses with light-colored tints can offer the same UV protection as very dark lenses.  It’s important to look at the UVA/UVB rating.

  • Children should wear sunglasses that indicate the UV protection level. Toy sunglasses may be cute, but may not have UV protection.
  • Consider larger glasses that have wraparound-style frame, which may provide more efficient UV protection because they cover the entire eye-socket.
  • Pricier sunglasses don’t ensure great UV protection.
  • Know that sunglasses are the most effective when worn with a wide-brim hat and sunscreen.

We want everyone to have a wonderful and safe summer.   We’re here to help with any summer ailments.  Piedmont Urgent Care is open every day from 8AM – 8PM for the expected and unexpected.