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Influenza Vaccinations: CDC Recommendations

August 24, 2020

Nationally, during the 2018–2019 flu season, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that nearly 63 percent of children age six months to 17 years of age received the seasonal influenza vaccination. Slightly more than 45 percent of adults received the vaccination, and, in Pennsylvania, 78 percent of nursing home residents, who are considered a higher risk group because of age, received the influenza vaccination. Preliminary data indicates that nationally, almost half a million hospitalizations and more than 34,000 deaths occurred because of seasonal influenza.

The CDC recently released recommendations on immunization practices for the upcoming 2020–2021 influenza season, generally occurring late fall to early spring. Because the influenza season likely will coincide with the COVID-19 pandemic, CDC recommends that everyone over the age of six months without contraindications receive the influenza vaccination. Reducing the prevalence of influenza will reduce the likelihood that influenza symptoms will be confused with similar symptoms associated with COVID-19, thereby avoiding a delay in or unintentional mismanagement of treatment. Prevention of and reduction in the severity and occurrence of influenza hospitalizations could help to ease an already stressed U.S. health care system.

Vaccinations to prevent influenza are particularly important to those persons at high risk for severe illness and complications. These persons include:

  • Children age six months to five years
  • Persons aged 50 and above
  • Adults and children who have chronic pulmonary (including asthma), cardiovascular (including hypertension), or metabolic disorders (including diabetes mellitus)
  • Those who are immunocompromised
  • Pregnant women, or women likely to become pregnant
  • Residents of long-term care communal living communities

Health care personnel and persons who are in contact with persons in these groups should be vaccinated.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has released an amendment to expand access to influenza vaccines to children by allowing state-licensed pharmacists (and pharmacy interns acting under supervision and if licensed and registered by the state board of pharmacy) to order and administer vaccines to children ages three to 18 years.

For additional information, contact Robert Shipp III, PhD, BSN, RN, vice president, population health and clinical affairs.