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What's the Latest with the Flu February 2020?

Novel Coronavirus symptoms are similar to those associated with influenza (fever, cough, shortness of breath). Keep up-to-date on case definitions and interim guidance on AAP and CDC web pages (updated frequently).

Influenza activity in the United States remains high. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a Health Alert Network message in January 2020, noting elevated activity due to influenza B/Victoria viruses, increasing circulation of influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 viruses, and low levels of influenza B/Yamagata and influenza A(H3N2) viruses. As of February 1st, there have been 78 flu-associated pediatric deaths reported this season. Of those deaths, 52 tested positive for influenza B, and 26 were confirmed as influenza A. Several more weeks of influenza circulation are expected. The CDC conducted a webinar titled, “2019-2020 Influenza Season Update and Recommendations for Clinicians”, for health care providers that emphasized the need to continue to vaccinate for influenza and use antiviral medications appropriately. See all presentation materials. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the CDC recommend annual influenza immunization of all children without medical contraindications, starting at 6 months of age. See the AAP policy statement, “Recommendations for Prevention and Control of Influenza in Children, 2019–2020."

Protect and Treat Children at High-risk

Children younger than 5 years, especially those younger than 2 years, and children with certain underlying medical conditions (See Table 1: Persons at High Risk of Influenza Complications within the AAP influenza policy statement), are at increased risk of hospitalization and complications attributable to influenza. Therefore, it is important that they are vaccinated. Here are some tips to help protect children:
  • Talk with parents about the importance of “cocooning” or immunizing family members/caregivers who spend time with children especially those at high risk and those younger than 6 months of age.
  • Develop a plan for infants who turn 6 months of age during the flu season to ensure that they receive their flu vaccination (2 doses, 4 weeks apart) as soon as they are old enough to be vaccinated.
  • Review patient immunization records for infants and those with special health care needs and follow up with their families to encourage them to get vaccinated..
  • Start antiviral treatment as soon as possible after illness onset. See recommendation 15 from the AAP policy statement for details on when antiviral chemoprophylaxis is recommended. The AAP also has a free online PediaLink course that includes a section focused on influenza treatment.

Begin Planning for the Next Influenza Season Now

It is time to consider what’s best in terms of ordering influenza vaccine for next year's flu season. Consider any changes in your order presentation if you will incorporate new dosing options for children who will be at least 6 months of age or older for next year’s flu season. The AAP Influenza Implementation Guidance 2019–2020 web page on Prebooking includes additional details. This guidance also covers supply, storage and handling, scheduling, administration, and information on payment and coding.

Additional Information

This message was supported in part by Cooperative Agreement Number 5NU38OT000282-02-00, funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the Department of Health and Human Services.