Planning for the Surge in Demand for the Flu Vaccine
Pharmacy Times® interviewed Ramzi Yacoub, the chief pharmacy officer at SingleCare, on how data from SingleCare has shown there is an intense surge in demand for the influenza (flu) vaccine this year in light of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
The discussion included how the demand for the flu vaccine is different this year than past years, when the significant demand began for the flu vaccine this year, how SingleCare planned for the flu season in order to meet this current surge in demand, and why this year specifically is important for people to get the flu vaccine.
Yacoub explained that getting hospitalized for the flu puts patients at an increased risk of exposure to COVID-19, putting vulnerable patients at greater risk. “If you do get hospitalized because of the flu, you're at an increased risk [of COVID-19], or if you have to go to the doctor or go to areas that you necessarily wouldn't have to go because you didn't have the flu, it puts you at a much higher risk,” said Yacoub.
Yacoub also noted that giving the vaccination earlier than the CDC’s recommended vaccination period may not be beneficial for patients.
“As far as the timing, the CDC recommends from September to October from when you should start [vaccinations], and the reason for that really is your body takes about a couple weeks to produce antibodies from the vaccine, and those antibodies will generally last you through the peak of the flu season, which is the end of the year through January,” Yacoub said. “By getting [vaccinated] earlier, I think people are being cautious, which is fantastic, that's what we want, but there may be some risk that if you get it early, like August and even earlier, you still may not have the antibodies towards the end of the season in January and December. So, the recommendation from what I would say is September and October is the optimal time frame to get the flu vaccine.”
Yacoub also discussed how the early supply for the flu vaccine may affect supply throughout the flu season, whether it would be possible for flu vaccine supply to diminish while the flu season is still active, whether the release of a COVID-19 vaccine may affect demand for the flu vaccine, and what the value of a pharmacist is during the coming months as both flu and COVID-19 will be in circulation.