Ensuring immunization services are maintained (or reinitiated) is essential for protecting individuals and communities from vaccine-preventable diseases and outbreaks. Influenza vaccination will be doubly important this 2020-2021 influenza season by reducing:
- The impact of respiratory illnesses in the population, and
- The burden on an already strained healthcare system.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, reducing the overall burden of respiratory illnesses is important to protect those at risk of severe illness, the healthcare system, and other critical infrastructure. It is vital to prevent the combined impact of influenza and COVID-19 from overwhelming our health system during the 2020-21 influenza season. Most important is ensuring availability of and access to influenza vaccine. Early planning efforts are needed this season to address additional complexities associated with vaccine delivery during a pandemic and anticipated increased demand for influenza vaccine. Healthcare providers should use EVERY opportunity to vaccinate all eligible persons, including:
- Essential workers: Healthcare personnel, including nursing home, long-term care facility, and pharmacy staff, and other critical infrastructure
- Persons at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19, including adults age 65 years and older, residents in a nursing home or long-term care facility, and persons of all ages with certain underlying medical conditions.
- Severe illness from COVID-19 has been observed to disproportionately affect members of certain racial/ethnic minority groups.
- Persons at high risk for influenza complications, including infants and young children, children with neurologic conditions, pregnant women, adults age 65 years and older, and other persons with certain underlying medical conditions.
Healthcare providers, whether they administer vaccines or not, should take steps to ensure that their patients continue to receive all recommended vaccines. All providers should assess, strongly recommend, administer (or refer) and document vaccination or vaccine counseling. A strong influenza vaccine recommendation is one of the most important factors in patients accepting the vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control has resources available for talking with patients and parents about the importance of receiving the flu vaccine.
The CDC has comprehensive guidance on providing immunization services during COVID-19, and general practices for the safe delivery of vaccines during the pandemic. On August 4 from 10 am – 11 am, CDC is hosting a webinar with recommendations on how to maintain routine vaccination and prepare for influenza vaccination during the COVID-19 pandemic.