Emphasize the Importance of Flu Vaccination in 2021-2022

It'll be all hands on deck for flu vaccines in 2021-2022...as COVID-19 continues and experts warn of a possible severe flu season.

One concern is that the low number of influenza cases last season may lessen immunity...and lead to increased severity this year.

Vaccinate as soon as you have flu vaccine available...and continue as long as flu is circulating.

Engage your techs to help share the load. For example, have them prep supplies...sanitize work areas...bill payers...and document.

Vaccines. Educate that most flu vaccines will be quadrivalent this season...with two updated A strains and the same two B strains as last year.

Compare products in our chart, Flu Vaccines for 2021-22.

For example, explain that Fluad or Fluzone High-Dose is approved for patients 65 and older...to try to improve the immune response.

Point out that Fluzone High-Dose is quadrivalent this year...and be aware that each dose is now 0.7 mL instead of 0.5 mL.

If you stock FluMist, consider it an option for healthy, nonpregnant patients 2 through 59...especially if they refuse injections.

But clarify that any age-appropriate vaccine can be given.

And make note of updated age approvals. The mammalian cell culture-based Flucelvax Quad is now approved for kids 2 and up...and Influvac Tetra can now be used for kids 3 and up.

Effectiveness. Patients will hear that flu vaccines are only 40% to 60% effective...versus about 90% for mRNA COVID-19 vaccines.

But point out that these comparisons aren't apples to apples.

This is partly because each flu season is different...and we're still learning about COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness over time.

Remind patients of the big picture...COVID-19 and flu vaccines significantly reduce the risk of severe illness, hospitalization, and death. Emphasize getting BOTH vaccinations to protect against each virus.

Co-administration. Help patients catch up on other needed immunizations (pneumococcal, Tdap, etc) at the same visit.

Keep in mind, national guidance now advises that the COVID-19 vaccine can be given at the same time as, or any time before or after other vaccines, including the flu vaccine.

Get our FAQ, Flu Vaccination, for answers about immunizing patients who are pregnant, feel sick, report an egg allergy, etc.

Key References

  • www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/publications/vaccines-immunization/canadian-immunization-guide-statement-seasonal-influenza-vaccine-2021-2022.html?hq_e=el&hq_m=2185668&hq_l=1&hq_v=42f995eed6#a8 (9-28-21)
  • www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/immunization/national-advisory-committee-on-immunization-naci/guidance-use-influenza-vaccine-covid-19.html (9-28-21)
  • www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/immunization/national-advisory-committee-on-immunization-naci/recommendations-use-covid-19-vaccines.html#a7.7 (9-28-21)
  • JAMA 2021;326(10):899-900
Pharmacist's Letter Canada. October 2021, No. 371017

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