Flu: Past and future vaccinations

You may not be thinking about the flu, but pharmacists and other health care professionals have already begun planning for the upcoming flu season.

The World Health Organization chose four influenza strains for this year’s vaccines: two strains from the more severe Influenza A virus, and two strains from the more common but less severe Influenza B virus.  Vaccine production began months ago and vaccine makers have adjusted growth conditions to help improve the newer vaccines. Pharmacists, physician offices and clinics are already reserving vaccination doses for this year’s flu season.  

There was some concern that last year’s vaccines were felt to be generally less effective than hoped for.  While this was widely publicized, it reflected only outpatient medical visits for flu.  Vaccinations for the 2016-2017 flu season are estimated to have prevented thousands of influenza deaths and over 100,000 hospitalizations for influenza.

The influenza vaccination is recommended for just about all patients who have not had a prior adverse reaction to the vaccine.  Flu is more dangerous for some people. Infants and young children, people 65 years of age and older, pregnant women, and people with certain health conditions or a weakened immune system are at greatest risk. Vaccinations will be available later in the year and the flu season runs from October through May and usually peaks in February.  Colorado pharmacists administer the flu vaccine and other vaccinations.  Ask your local pharmacist about receiving your flu vaccine this year.

Submitted by Peter J. Rice, PharmD, PhD, BCPS, FAPhA

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