IT’S FLU SEASON ALREADY????
As if everyone isn’t tired enough of the warnings, of wearing a mask and of social isolation now it’s time for the good old flu season! So what do we need to know about the flu this year?
Every year in America there are millions of people affected by the flu or influenza as it is also called. During the 2016-2017 through 2018-2019 flu seasons, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that flu caused 29-45 million illnesses and 34,000-61,000 deaths in each of those seasons. You put those numbers along side of the Covid-19 that is already taking a toll on the health of the public in the United States and it is obvious that our best protection is to take the annual flu/influenza vaccination.
So here are the CDC’s recommendations for 2020-2021 flu/influenza season.
Who Should Get an Influenza Vaccination?
CDC and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) continue to recommend annual influenza vaccination for everyone 6 months of age or older who does not have contraindications. Any licensed influenza vaccine appropriate for age and health status can be used.
Vaccination is especially important for young children, older adults, pregnant women, and people of all ages with a chronic medical condition.
When To Get the Vaccination?
The CDC and ACIP recommend that the vaccination be given by the end of October 2020. The preference is that the vaccine be given before the start of flu/influenza cases being seen in the community. However, if you miss this time frame you still need to get the vaccine as long as it is available.
Of special consideration is the fact that children 6 months through 8 years of age will need two doses of influenza vaccine this season. Children in this age group who have not previously received two or more total doses of any flu/ifluenza vaccine before July 1, 2020, or whose vaccination history is not known need two doses of 2020-2021 influenza vaccine administered at least 4 weeks apart. Children in this age group who have received two or more total doses of influenza vaccine before July 1, 2020, need only one dose for this season.
What’s New This Season?
There are two new influenza vaccines have been licensed for use in people aged 65 years and older: a quadrivalent high-dose influenza vaccine and a quadrivalent adjuvanted influenza vaccine. Previously the high-dose and adjuvanted influenza vaccines were only available in trivalent formulations.
What If You Have COVID-19?
For patients with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 who are already in a medical care setting, clinicians can consider delaying vaccination until the patient is no longer acutely ill. Moderate to any severe active illness, with or without fever, is a precaution for vaccination. People with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 who are isolating at home or in any other nonmedical settings (with or without symptoms) should not go to medical settings for routine vaccinations until they meet criteria to come off isolation, in order to avoid exposing others in the vaccination setting.
The complete 2020-2021 influenza season recommendations are available on the CDC website.