This season of “not quite winter, not quite spring” in much of the country brings with it the arrival of seasonal pollen. But this season also brings a sense of renewal and hope.
In that spirit, I join all of you in cautious optimism that the worst of the COVID pandemic might be behind us. I can’t help but reflect on all that we’ve been through together since this incredible challenge began three years ago. In March 2020, we were all heading into quarantine, not knowing what would happen – to ourselves, our loved ones, our patients or our work.
It’s amazing to think of all that happened in response to the pandemic, and the relative speed with which it happened. The College leadership is proud that we were able to support you, our members, in navigating the COVID crisis, which lasted much longer than I think any of us expected.
Our dedicated members were in the forefront of early vaccine development and providing guidance on allergic reactions to vaccines. We created an efficient COVID Resource Center to provide the latest information about government funds and deadlines, PPE sources, recommendations for safely interacting with patients, infection and hospitalization rates, up-to-the-minute vaccine information, and emerging research. We advocated for payment for telehealth services so that our members could continue seeing patients when in-person visits were not possible.
Now, as we enter a time of transition to a more “endemic” situation, the College will keep you updated as we near the official end of the Public Health Emergency, and what that means for us as practicing allergists. As of this week, our regular COVID News Brief e-newsletter will sunset. With that, we are happy to announce a new feature in College Insider: Need to Know. This boxed area will contain links to high-priority news about infection trends and recommendations related to COVID, flu, RSV, as well as other critical news from agencies and the public health arena. And, of course, we will continue to send dedicated e-blasts as needed regarding breaking news that is particularly urgent for allergists, such as important new medications, recalls, supply shortages, etc. The College is always working for you, to provide the most up-to-date information.
Speaking of updates, this column also provides me a great opportunity to share some important College programs and projects that are underway this year. Here are a few highlights:
- The new Community Allergist Partnership in Education (CAPE) Program, to be launched at our Annual Meeting in Anaheim, will help our members provide real-world training in community allergy practices to learners at various career stages.
- After achieving very positive results with our Time for an Allergist campaign since its launch in September 2022, the College will extend the campaign for the spring and fall allergy seasons in 2023. The campaign reaches out to primary care providers (as well as the public) to encourage referrals to board certified and fellowship-trained allergists. The commercials have been viewed more than 2.5 million times, and the campaign has resulted in 18,000 Find an Allergist searches.
- The 2023 Annual Scientific Meeting Planning Committee met this past weekend to finalize our phenomenal, practical program for the meeting this November in Anaheim.
- A new, stand-alone Allergen Immunotherapy Mixer Course is planned for August 5, 2023 in Chicago, where 100 participants will be trained to appropriately mix allergen extracts (in compliance with USP 797) for use with their patients. Registration information will be coming soon.
- Our 2023 Leadership Summit: Generation Next takes place March 25-26. Twenty emerging leaders are planning to attend, and I look forward to reporting on this event in the near future.
- Work is underway to provide six more online patient brochures to add to the five titles already on the member website. I encourage our members to check out these brochures and to use them for patient education, including adding them to practice websites and EHRs and sending to patient via patient portals.
- A new patient guide on EoE is expected to be completed by this summer. Each member will receive several samples of the guide for use in your office.
- The College is continuing its efforts to increase diversity in the profession and reduce disparities in allergy care, through our SPARK Program and Community Grant Program, respectively.
I look forward to sharing more updates with you soon, and I appreciate our members’ interest and participation in College activities. After all, it’s OUR College!