Current Influenza Activity
Influenza activity is increasing. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), while H1N1 viruses have been most common this season, H3N2, and B flu viruses have also been detected. Recently circulating H1N1 viruses are antigenically like the H1N1 viruses that circulated last season. The vaccine effectiveness of the flu shot against H1N1 viruses last season was more than 60 percent in the US. This season's flu vaccines contain the same H1N1 vaccine virus.
Unfortunately, there have already been 19 influenza-associated pediatric deaths reported during the 2018-2019 season. Even one death is too many. This reinforces the need for you to make sure that everyone in your care has been immunized against seasonal flu.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is asking you to take action to ensure that all children get vaccinated against flu. See the AAP policy "Recommendations for Prevention and Control of Influenza in Children, 2018-2019" for updated recommendations on the routine use of seasonal influenza vaccines and antiviral medications for the prevention and treatment of influenza in children.
Also see the AAP
Influenza Implementation Guidance 2018-2019, which is designed to help you and your staff prevent influenza. The guidance has information about vaccine hesitancy, including sample responses to some questions parents/guardians may ask. Do you have ideas about how to help your colleagues reach parents who are hesitant to get their child vaccinated? If so, please email here. The AAP is collecting suggestions and stories about improving influenza vaccine recommendations (or access to recommendations) when it comes to parents.
Protecting Your Vaccines Through Safe Storage and Handling
There are steps that you should take to store influenza vaccines properly according to the guidance of the manufacturer and the CDC. Temperature changes have the potential to destroy the potency of vaccine stock (especially if vaccines get too cold).
Sufficient storage space also is needed for vaccines. If a vaccine refrigerator is packed too tightly, temperature fluctuations can occur and potentially make flu vaccines and other vaccine stock unusable. Some practices may want to consider a separate flu vaccine refrigerator, for use to store those vaccines during flu vaccination season. All influenza vaccines should be stored between 2°C and 8°C (36°F and 46°F) and should not be frozen. Influenza vaccine exposed to freezing temperature should not be used.
Unfortunately, natural disasters are becoming more frequent, and these situations result in power outages, so it's wise to plan ahead. If you ever experience a loss of power, do not open freezers or refrigerators containing vaccines, except to transport them to an alternative storage location. Always continue to monitor the temperatures of your vaccines. After the event, do not discard vaccines. If vaccines were lost or damaged, contact the manufacturers for their replacement/refund policies. The AAP summarized the
policies and processes of vaccine manufacturers and the CDC
Vaccine for Children Program related to vaccine loss due to a natural disaster after Hurricane Michael.
For additional information, see the CDC
Vaccine Storage and Handling Toolkit and the AAP
Storage and Handling Web page.
Many Strategies Exist to Reach Families
Informing families about the importance of influenza prevention and control through various messaging strategies can make a real difference. The CDC
Public Health Matters Blog outlines how to talk to friends, family, and patients about flu vaccines. Pediatricians can share a link to this blog with families and encourage them to take important steps to protect themselves from influenza.
Also consider sharing the
Vaccine Locator. This tool helps identify the locations where influenza vaccine is available in a particular area.
Does your practice have a Web site or a social media outlet? If not, consider creating one to easily share updates and reminders with families throughout flu season. See the AAP
Marketing the Practice and the
Immunization Social Media Toolkit Web pages for ideas.
Consider sharing the following video in your waiting room or with families after routine visits. The AAP
National Center on Early Childhood Health and Wellness developed a new 1 minute
animated video that emphasizes the importance of everyone receiving a flu vaccination every year, focusing on child care professionals and the children in their care. The video also is available in
AAP Voices Blog highlighted some ways that pediatricians are making it more convenient – and fun – for children to get vaccinated.
Online Course: Influenza Update: Prevention, Treatment, and Management of Influenza
Do you want to learn more? This recently updated
six-part course series provides key information about the 2018-2019 flu season. The purpose of this series is to educate pediatric health care professionals on the current AAP policy recommendations for routine use of seasonal influenza vaccine and antiviral medicines for the prevention and treatment of influenza in infants, children, and adolescents. The following topics are addressed:
- Activity 1: Clinical Presentation and Complications
- Activity 2: Diagnosis and Diagnostic Tests
- Activity 3: Prevention of Influenza
- Activity 4: Treatment for the Clinician
- Activity 5: Vaccination in Egg-Allergic Individuals
- Activity 6: Immunizations for all Health Care Personnel.
Red Book Online Influenza Resource page or
FluView. All "What's the Latest with the Flu" messages are
archived. Also see the "What's the Latest with the Flu" messages for
child care providers and a
holiday flu prevention song from the CDC.