Four Important Updates for the 2017-18 Flu Season

The flu season has arrived! Be prepared by reviewing newly released CDC recommendations and these four important updates.

  1. The time to get vaccinated is NOW!
    Influenza vaccination should optimally occur before the end of October, however administration later in the season is still beneficial. The CDC recommends that everyone aged 6 months or older without contraindications receive an annual influenza vaccination.Children aged 6 months through 8 years who require 2 doses should receive their first dose as soon as possible after the vaccine is available to allow the second dose (which is administered ≥4 weeks later) to be received by the end of October. Providers are encouraged to vaccinate patients during routine office visits as soon as vaccine products are available. Educate patients about the importance of the flu vaccine to reduce flu illnesses, doctors’ visits, missed work and school days, and prevent flu-related hospitalizations.
  2. Persons with a History of Egg Allergy Can Get the Vaccine
    Only the recombinant influenza vaccines RIV3 and RIV4 (Flublok and Flublok Quadrivalent) are considered egg free, however persons who report having had reactions to egg may still receive any licensed and recommended influenza vaccine that is otherwise appropriate for their age and health status. No period of post-vaccination observation is recommended specifically for egg-allergic persons, however providers may want to consider observing patients for 15 minutes following administration of any vaccine to decrease the risk for injury should syncope occur or to manage any allergic reactions. Although rare, severe allergic reactions can occur at any time despite a recipient’s allergy history.
  3. Only Injections This Year
    For the second year in a row, the CDC recommends not to use the live attenuated intranasal influenza vaccine, LAIV4 (FluMist Quadrivalent), which provided poor protection against influenza A (H1N1) viruses during recent influenza seasons. A variety of injectable inactivated or recombinant trivalent and quadrivalent vaccines will be available for administration, and more than one type of vaccine may be appropriate for most recipients based upon age. Where more than one type of vaccine is appropriate and available, no preferential recommendation is made for use of one vaccine product over another. Vaccination should not be delayed in order to wait for a specific vaccine.
  4. Pregnant Women, Persons over 65 Should Get Vaccinated
    The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends that all women who are pregnant or may become pregnant during the influenza season receive an influenza vaccination. Any licensed, recommended and age-appropriate influenza vaccine may be used as no preferential recommendation is made for use of any influenza vaccine product over another. The vaccine may be administered at any time during pregnancy, before and during the influenza season. For persons aged ≥65 years, any of the age-appropriate inactivated influenza vaccine (IIV) or recombinant influenza vaccine (RIV) formulations are acceptable options. Due to the vulnerability within this patient population, vaccination should not be delayed in order to minimize the risk of acquiring severe influenza illness which could lead to complications requiring hospitalization.

For more information on guidelines for the 2017-18 influenza season, visit the CDC website at: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/acip-recs/vacc-specific/flu.html