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 flu cases last season may lessen immunity...and lead to increased severity this year.
Timing. People should be getting flu vaccines now.
Expect to continue dispensing them as long as flu is circulating...hospital "quality measures" run from Oct 1 to Mar 31.
Be aware that CDC now recommends against giving a flu vaccine to most individuals in July and August...due to potential waning immunity. But a flu "booster" isn't recommended regardless of when it was given.
Vaccines. All flu vaccines will be quadrivalent...with two updated influenza A strains and the same two B strains as last year.
Be familiar with formulary options...and avoid product mix-ups.
For example, Fluad or Fluzone High-Dose is specifically approved for patients 65 and older. Or if you stock intranasal FluMist, it's an option for healthy, nonpregnant patients age 2 through 49.
Keep products straight with our chart, Flu Vaccines for 2021-22.
Effectiveness. You may hear that flu vaccines are only 40% to 60% effective...versus about 90% for mRNA COVID-19 vaccines.
But keep in mind, these comparisons aren't apples to apples.
It's partly because each flu season is different...and we're still learning about COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness over time.
Expect clinicians to educate that COVID-19 and flu vaccines significantly reduce risk of severe illness, hospitalization, and death...and encourage getting BOTH vaccines to protect against each virus.
Brush up on vaccine dispensing, storage, and more with our technician tutorial, The Basics of Immunization and Vaccines. And look into our PTU Elite: Immunizations program for training on administration.
- MMWR Recomm Rep 2021;70(5):1-28
- www.cdc.gov/flu/season/faq-flu-season-2021-2022.htm (10-1-21)
- www.cdc.gov/flu/vaccines-work/vaccineeffect.htm (10-1-21)
- JAMA 2021;326(10):899-900