4 Key Things to Remember This Flu Season

With flu season just around the corner, it is important to stay up-to-date with CDC recommendations and changes each year.

With flu season just around the corner, it’s important to stay up-to-date with CDC recommendations and changes each year.

Here are key things for pharmacists and patients to remember this flu season:

1. Don’t use the nasal spray flu vaccine

The live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV) isn’t recommended for the 2016-2017 season because of concerns about its efficacy. Data demonstrated the effectiveness of LAIV was only 3% among children ages 2 to 17 years during the last flu season.

2. Some children may need 2 doses of flu vaccine

Counsel parents that children ages 6 months to 8 years require 2 doses of the influenza vaccine if they haven’t previously received a total of >2 doses of the trivalent or quadrivalent influenza vaccine before July 1, 2016. The 2 doses must be administered at least 4 weeks apart. Therefore, it’s important to begin vaccinating these patients as soon as possible to ensure that the second dose is received before the height of flu season.

3. New recommendation for patients with egg allergies

Those with an egg allergy who’ve experienced only hives after exposure to egg should receive any recommended influenza vaccine based on their age and health status. Furthermore, the recommendation that patients with an egg allergy should be observed for 30 minutes postvaccination for signs and symptoms of an allergic reaction was removed. Instead, health care providers should consider observing all patients for 15 minutes after vaccination to decrease the risk for injury if they experience syncope.

Individuals who have reported reactions to egg involving symptoms other than hives—like angioedema, respiratory distress, lightheadedness, or recurrent vomiting—or who have required epinephrine or another emergency medical intervention may receive any age-appropriate vaccine. However, the vaccine should be administered in an inpatient or outpatient medical setting supervised by a health care provider who’s able to recognize and manage severe allergic reactions.

4. Available vaccines for this flu season

The table below provides information on influenza vaccines available for this flu season. Educate patients to try and receive a flu vaccine by October and remind them it takes approximately 2 weeks for it to become effective.

Trade Name

Age

Route

Fluarix Quadrivalent

>3 years

IM

Flulaval Quadrivalent

>3 years

IM

Fluzone Quadrivalent

6 through 35 months: 0.25 ml single-dose prefilled syringe

>36 months: 0.5 ml single-dose prefilled syringe and 0.5 ml single-dose vial

>6 months: 5 ml multi-dose vial

IM

Fluzone Intradermal Quadrivalent

18 through 64 years

ID

Flucelvax Quadrivalent

>4 years

IM

Afluria

>9 years

IM

Fluvirin

>4 years

IM

Fluad

>65 years

IM

Fluzone High Dose

>65 years

IM

Flublok

>18 years

IM

*Adapted from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommendations

IM= intramuscular; ID= intradermal

Overall, pharmacists play an important role in flu vaccination education and administration.

References

Grohskopf LA, et al. Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices—United States, 2016—17 Influenza Season. MMWR. 65(5):1-54.