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Flu information for healthcare and public health professionals

Healthcare providers and local public health are instrumental in preventing and controlling the spread of influenza in Massachusetts.

Here are some important updates for this year:

2017–2018 Recommendation Highlights

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and CDC continue to recommend annual influenza vaccination with an injectable influenza vaccine for everyone 6 months and older, including pregnant women. The recommendation not to use live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV) was extended for the 2017–2018 season. Full recommendations for the 2017–2018 influenza season are online at https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/indrr_2017.html.

Massachusetts Resources

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) provides two resources with specific Massachusetts guidance related to influenza. MDPH Recommendations and Resources for the Control of Influenza and Pneumococcal Disease (DOC) reviews the updated recommendations, influenza vaccination rates, infection control and testing guidance, and vaccine formulation information. Control of Influenza and Pneumococcal Disease in Long-Term Care Facilities (DOC) discusses specific recommendations for long-term care residents and staff as well as other vaccines applicable to this population.

In addition, the Flu Guide for Diverse Communities (DOC) is an outreach guide to help health department or community-based organizations truly reach the communities that need flu vaccine.

Vaccine Supply

Manufacturers have projected they will produce between 151 million and 166 million doses of injectable influenza vaccine for the 2017–2018 influenza season, which should ensure sufficient supply of vaccine. MDPH universally provides influenza vaccine, as well as other routinely recommended vaccines, to all children through 18 years of age (DOC). MDPH created a table outlining the current state-supplied influenza formulations (DOC) to ensure you are using the age appropriate formulation and dose for the person you are vaccinating. MDPH only provides influenza vaccine for uninsured adults seen at public sites (DOC).

When to Vaccinate

Optimally, vaccination should occur before onset of influenza activity in the community. We recommend vaccination by the end of October, if possible. To avoid missed opportunities for vaccination, providers should offer vaccination during routine health care visits and hospitalizations when vaccine is available. Vaccination efforts should continue throughout the season because the duration of the influenza season varies and influenza activity might not occur in certain communities until February or March. Vaccine administered in December or later is likely to be beneficial even if given after the influenza season has begun. In New England, flu activity usually lasts until April and May.

Safe Vaccine Administration

When you “know the site and get it right,” you can help prevent one type of vaccine administration error—shoulder injuries such as deltoid bursitis—generally caused when vaccines are injected high on the shoulder and the needle enters a shoulder bursa. This is an error reported to occur mostly among adults. CDC provides comprehensive vaccine administration resources https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/admin/admin-protocols.html.  

Vaccine Information Statement

The inactivated influenza vaccine information statement (VIS) developed in August 2015 remains applicable and will be used again this season.

Your Strong Recommendation is Important!

Patients listen to providers when providers strongly recommend vaccination. Below are some data that might inform your conversations with patients in the upcoming months:

Vaccine Guidelines and Tools

This page contains standing orders, screening forms, consent forms, vaccine information sheets (VIS), and other resources.

Infection Control, Testing, and Surveillance

This page contains information on infection control, testing, and surveillance, including the blog link to the weekly flu reports.

Information for School and Childcare Professionals

This page contains educational materials for for parents, CDC pages for schools and influenza, information on running school-based vaccination clinics, and other helpful information.

Avian Flu

This page contains frequently asked questions about avian influenza, avian influenza in humans, avian influenza in birds, and additional resources.

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