As the Flu season, (which normally hit the highest points between the December and February) has already begun; it’s an important occasion for people to get prepared in advance for managing this highly, infectious disease. Every year, National Influenza Vaccination Week (NIVW) is observed from December 2 – 8 in the United States. Sponsored by the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD), this week-long campaign is focused on highlighting the importance of influenza vaccination through the holiday season and beyond. The campaign provides an opportunity for public health care professionals, health advocates, communities, and families from across the country to work together to promote flu vaccination before the traditional winter peak in flu activity. Influenza (commonly called flu) is a viral, respiratory illness that normally spreads through the coughs and sneezes of an infected person. The condition can affect anybody, though it could be more dangerous for young children, adults (aged 65 years and above), pregnant women and those with underlying health conditions. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a routine, annual flu/influenza vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older as the first and most important step in protecting against seasonal flu viruses. Medical coding companies and coding professionals need to stay updated with the latest coding guidelines and regulations in order to document flu accurately.

Reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggest that about 79,000 deaths occurred during the 2017-18 flu season – out of which 185 were children. Initially, the flu may seem like a common cold with a runny nose, sneezing and sore throat along with fatigue and weakness. Other common signs and symptoms include – chills and sweats, headache, aching muscles, nasal congestion, dry, persistent cough and fever (over 100.4 F- 38 C). However, as the immune system gets weaker (due to aging) – adults aged 65 years and older have a higher risk of suffering serious complications from the flu, such as pneumonia and hospitalization. CDC estimates that about 70 – 85 percent of seasonal flu-related deaths in the United States have occurred among people 65 years and older.

The week-long event acts as a unique platform to remind people that even though the holiday season has begun, it is not too late to get a flu vaccine. Generally, exposure to the flu virus may increase during the holiday season, (as families travel and gather together), and it’s important to get the flu shot as soon as possible. Vaccination to prevent flu is specifically important for people who are at high risk of developing serious complications from influenza. It typically takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against flu. Along with taking vaccines, other steps that are recommended to stay healthy include – washing your hands well and often, staying back at home when sick, covering your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing, and wiping down counters, desks, tables and other surfaces with disinfectant.

While diagnosing flu, it is imperative for healthcare providers to determine which specific test is ideal for patients. One of the most commonly used tests is rapid influenza diagnostics test – which looks for substances (antigens) on a swab sample from the back of the nose or throat. These tests can provide results in about 15 minutes. Treatment for this highly contagious disease includes antiviral medications, such as oseltamivir (Tamiflu) or zanamivir (Relenza).

When documenting flu, infectious disease specialists must include the associated symptoms and complications, diagnosis screening tests and treatment procedures performed using the correct medical codes. Medical billing and coding services provided by reputable medical billing companies can help physicians use the correct codes for their medical billing purposes.

ICD-10 Codes used for Influenza include –

  • J09 – Influenza due to certain identified influenza viruses
  • J09.X – Influenza due to identified novel influenza A virus
    • J09.X1 – Influenza due to identified novel influenza A virus, with pneumonia
    • J09.X2 – Influenza due to identified novel influenza A virus, with other respiratory manifestations
    • J09.X3 – Influenza due to identified novel influenza A virus, with gastrointestinal manifestations
    • J09.X9 – Influenza due to identified novel influenza A virus, with other manifestations
  • J10 – Influenza due to other identified influenza virus
  • J10.0 – Influenza due to other identified influenza virus with pneumonia
    • J10.00 – Influenza due to other identified influenza virus with unspecified type of pneumonia
    • J10.01 – Influenza due to other identified influenza virus with the same other identified influenza virus pneumonia
    • J10.08 – Influenza due to other identified influenza virus with other specified pneumonia
  • J10.1 – Influenza due to other identified influenza virus with other respiratory manifestations
  • J10.2 – Influenza due to other identified influenza virus with gastrointestinal manifestations
  • J10.8 – Influenza due to other identified influenza virus with other manifestations
    • J10.81 – Influenza due to other identified influenza virus with encephalopathy
    • J10.82 – Influenza due to other identified influenza virus with myocarditis
    • J10.83 – Influenza due to other identified influenza virus with otitis media
    • J10.89 – Influenza due to other identified influenza virus with other manifestations
  • J11 – Influenza due to unidentified influenza virus
  • J11.0 – Influenza due to unidentified influenza virus with pneumonia
    • J11.00 – Influenza due to unidentified influenza virus with unspecified type of pneumonia
    • J11.08 – Influenza due to unidentified influenza virus with specified pneumonia
  • J11.1 – Influenza due to unidentified influenza virus with other respiratory manifestations
  • J11.2 – Influenza due to unidentified influenza virus with gastrointestinal manifestations
  • J11.8 – Influenza due to unidentified influenza virus with other manifestations
    • J11.81 – Influenza due to unidentified influenza virus with encephalopathy
    • J11.82 – Influenza due to unidentified influenza virus with myocarditis
    • J11.83 – Influenza due to unidentified influenza virus with otitis media
    • J11.89 – Influenza due to unidentified influenza virus with other manifestations

The code representing the flu vaccination is Z23, which is the same for any immunization.

  • Z23 – Encounter for immunization

This diagnosis code can be used regardless of vaccine quantity or type. It can also be used with other vaccines too, not just flu shots.

The National Influenza Vaccination Week (NIVW) was first established in the year 2005 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to raise awareness and advocate for the flu vaccination through the winter season and beyond. However, during these years the week-long campaign has grown into a wider platform, cautioning the public about the symptoms and complications associated with this infectious condition and providing awareness about the treatment options available. As part of the event, CDC has developed a number of complimentary tools and materials for organizations across the US to aid their vaccination efforts during NIVW. CDC has developed free NIVW communication resources (in multiple languages) including –  print material, web tools, graphics, and animated images  along with other free resources including widgets and mobile apps to educate others about the importance of getting an annual flu vaccine.

Be part of National Influenza Vaccination Week (NIVW) celebration. Know more about the importance of getting vaccinated for flu.