While the official influenza season has returned, it seems that the last season never ended, since providing influenza vaccinations never stopped. In fact, the ACIP (Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices), the immunization arm of the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), recommends healthcare facilities begin administering the 2010-2011 seasonal influenza vaccine to their staff and patients when the facility receives their supply, even though influenza immunizations usually began October 1st. If a person received the H1N1 vaccine earlier this year, they can and should be vaccinated again this season. There are several other changes this year.
The A/California/7/2009 (H1N1)-like strain that was included in the pandemic influenza strain circulating most of this year is included in the 2010–2011 season influenza vaccines. While H1N1 activity has ebbed, it may yet return as strong or stronger than before, so the World Health Organization recommended it be included in the vaccine for the Northern Hemisphere, and the CDC in the US agreed. Other influenza antigens in this year’s seasonal vaccine are the A/Perth/16/2009 (H3N2)-like and B/Brisbane/60/2008-like strains, which continue to circulate and cause outbreaks in other parts of the world, including Asia, Africa, and the Southern hemisphere. In addition the ACIP updated their recommendations for use of the trivalent seasonal influenza vaccine. Although most of these recommendations concerned changes in manufacturer instructions for administering influenza vaccine to children, the ACIP stresses that all persons aged 6 months and older be vaccinated each year. (See Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) issue August 8, 2010 / 59(31);989-992) or http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/pdf/rr/rr59e0729.pdf.
There is also a new type of inactivated influenza vaccine that received FDA approval for use in adults age 65 and older this season. This vaccine contains four times the amount of influenza antigen compared to other inactivated seasonal influenza vaccines. In one study of people age 65 years and older, Fluzone High-Dose vaccine, manufactured by Sanofi Pasteur, produced higher antibody levels, but a slightly higher frequency of local reactions. Studies are underway to assess the effectiveness of Fluzone High-Dose as compared to the standard dose inactivated influenza vaccine, but those study results will not be available before the 2010-11 influenza season. The ACIP has not expressed a preference for the Fluzone High-Dose over any other licensed inactivated influenza vaccine for use in people age 65 and older.
While all general acute care hospitals must report the following data in order to be in compliance with SB739, which went into effect in 2008, it would be prudent for LTCFs to consider tracking the same data, just in case surveyors ask about your employee influenza vaccination program. (See AFL 08-17 and AFL 10-29 date: September 16, 2010): Total number vaccinated at your facility. | Total number of staff that received a vaccination outside of your facility. | Total number of staff that declined vaccination and were not vaccinated elsewhere. | Total number of staff with unknown vaccination status.