ACIP Releases Current Recommendations on Influenza Vaccination
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has released the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommendations regarding 2020-21 seasonal influenza vaccination. ACIP expressed concern that the continued circulation of SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus associated with COVID-19, will coincide with this year’s influenza season, which commonly occurs from late fall until early spring. The common signs and symptoms of COVID-19 (e.g. fever, cough, dyspnea) can also occur with influenza. Influenza vaccination for those individuals 6 months and older can reduce prevalence of influenza-related illnesses and reduce symptoms that might be confused with COVID-19. Prevention and reduction in severity of influenza illness can also alleviate stress on the U.S. health care system through decreased demand for hospitalizations and intensive care unit beds.
During the recent severe 2017-18 influenza season, vaccination was found to be overall 38% effective, but still prevented 7.1 million illnesses, 109,000 hospitalizations, and 8000 deaths for respiratory and circulatory conditions.
Available vaccines for 2020-21 will include updated components to the Influenza A(H1N1), Influenza A(H3N2) and Influenza B/Victoria viruses. The updated components will be included in both trivalent and quadrivalent vaccines. The quadrivalent vaccines will include an additional influenza B virus component, as with the prior year. Two new influenza vaccines have been licensed for use this year in those age 65 years and older: Fluzone High-Dose Quadrivalent and Fluad Quadrivalent.
Influenza vaccination is recommended to be offered by end of October, before the onset of influenza activity in the community. Peak influenza activity may occur in January or February, but duration may extend into March. Children aged 6 months through 18 years require 2 doses of influenza vaccine a minimum of 4 weeks apart during their first season of vaccination. The Recommendations address vaccination for pregnant women, immunocompromised persons, individuals with history of egg allergy, and travelers.
The full ACIP report is available in the CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) of August 21, 2020: https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/rr/rr6908a1.htm . Additional information on influenza and influenza vaccination is available at the CDC influenza website: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/