5 Things You Should Know About the Upcoming Flu Season

SEPTEMBER 11, 2017
Flu season is approaching soon, and it is a great time for pharmacists to educate patients on the importance of the annual influenza vaccine. Influenza can cause serious illness and death, especially among older adults, very young children, pregnant women, and individuals with certain chronic medical conditions. Below, please find 5 things you should know about the upcoming flu season.

The live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV4) should not be used.1
FluMist Quadrivalent (LAIV4) should not be used during the 2017-2018 flu season due to concerns regarding its efficacy. Studies demonstrate low effectiveness against influenza A (H1N1)pdm09 in the United States during the 2013-14 and 2015-2016 seasons.
Pregnant women may receive any licensed, recommended, age-appropriate vaccine.1
Pregnant women are at a higher risk of severe illness and complications from influenza than patients who are not pregnant due to changes in the immune system, heart, and lungs during pregnancy. Vaccination during pregnancy also protects infants from influenza through the passage of antibodies. This is especially important since infants cannot receive the influenza vaccine until they are 6 months of age. The influenza vaccine can be administered at any time during pregnancy.

The age indication for FluLaval Quadrivalent was extended.1
The age indication for FluLaval Quadrivalent was extended from > 3 years to > 6 months in November 2016. This creates an additional option for vaccination of children 6 months through 35 months in addition to the Fluzone Quadrivalent vaccine.

There are a variety of influenza vaccines available for the upcoming flu season.1
The following table demonstrates the available approved influenza vaccines for the upcoming season:
Table: Approved Vaccines for the 2017-2018 Season1
Brand Presentation Age indication
Afluria Quadrivalent 0.5 ml prefilled syringe
5 ml multidose vial
> 18 years
Fluarix Quadrivalent 0.5 ml prefilled syringe > 3 years
FluLaval Quadrivalent 0.5 ml prefilled syringe
5 ml multidose vial
> 6 months
Fluzone Quadrivalent 0.25 ml prefilled syringe
0.5 ml prefilled syringe
0.5 ml single-dose vial
5 ml multidose vial
6 through 35 months
> 3 years
> 3 years
> 6 months
Flucelvax Quadrivalent 0.5 ml prefilled syringe
5 ml multidose vial
> 4 years
> 4 years
Fluzone Intradermal Quadrivalent 0.1 ml single-dose prefilled microinjection system 18 through 64 years
Afluria 0.5 ml prefilled syringe
5 ml multidose vial
> 5 years
> 5 years
Fluvirin 0.5 ml prefilled syringe
5 ml multidose vial
> 4 years
> 4 years
Fluad 0.5 ml prefilled syringe > 65 years
Fluzone High-Dose 0.5 ml prefilled syringe > 65 years
Flublok Quadrivalent 0.5 ml prefilled syringe >  18 years
Flublok 0.5 ml single-dose vial > 18 years
*Adapted from the ACIP recommendations
Children 6 months through 8 years of age may need 2 doses.1
Children receiving the influenza vaccine for the first time should receive 2 doses administered at least 4 weeks apart.  It is important for children in this population to receive their first dose as soon as possible after the vaccine is available to allow the second dose to be administered by the end of October.

  1. Grohskopf LA, Sokolow LZ, Broder KR, et al.  Prevention and Control of Seasonal Influenza with Vaccines: Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices-United States, 2017-2018 Influenza Season. MMWR Recomm Rep. 2017;66(No. RR-2):1-20.DOI: https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/66/rr/rr6602a1.htm.

Jennifer Gershman, PharmD, CPh
Jennifer Gershman, PharmD, CPh
Jennifer Gershman, PharmD, CPh, received her PharmD degree from Nova Southeastern University (NSU) College of Pharmacy in 2006 and completed a 2-year drug information residency. She served as a pharmacy professor at NSU’s College of Pharmacy for 6 years, managed the drug information center, and conducted medication therapy management reviews. Dr. Gershman has published research on prescription drug abuse, regulatory issues, and drug information in various scholarly journals. Additionally, she received the Sheriff’s Special Recognition Award for her collaboration with the Broward, Florida Sheriff’s Office to prevent prescription drug abuse through a drug disposal program. She has also presented at pharmacist and physician continuing education programs on topics that include medication errors, prescription drug abuse, and legal and regulatory issues. Dr. Gershman can be followed on Twitter @jgershman2
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