Every year, in collaboration with Immunize Canada (formerly the Canadian Coalition for Immunization Awareness and Promotion (CCIAP), CPhA provides you with updated information on influenza awareness. While pharmacists have had an important role for many years in educating people on influenza, and in particular the importance of immunization, today they play an even more important role as immunizers. CPhA offers a number of resources designed to help you become informed, raise awareness, promote immunization and run an influenza clinic in your pharmacy. You should also check for jurisdiction-specific resources provided by your provincial pharmacy association. Read the letter from CPhA Chair Jane Farnham outlining important information for the 2014-2015 influenza season.
The National Advisory Committee on Immunization statement reiterates that the transmission of influenza between infected health care workers and their vulnerable patients continues to be a significant cause of morbidity and mortality. Health care workers with direct patient contact should consider it their responsibility to provide the highest standard of care, which includes that they personally receive the annual influenza vaccination. Those with confirmed or presumed influenza should not have direct patient contact.
2014-2015 Flu Season Information
Influenza affects millions of Canadians, with an average of 12,200 hospitalizations and approximately 3,500 deaths annually. Vaccination is recognized as the cornerstone for preventing or mitigating influenza. It is important to encourage your patients to receive the flu shot each year because the duration of protection afforded by the vaccine may not span two or more influenza seasons.
CPhA has updated the influenza resources for pharmacists according to the National Advisory Committee for Immunization (NACI) 2014-2015 flu season recommendations.
One of the most significant developments for the 2014-2015 influenza season is the availability of a quadrivalent vaccine that provides further protection against influenza B. While the NACI guidelines do not specifically indicate that the quadrivalent vaccine should be administered to everyone being immunized, they do indicate that because children and infants are more susceptible to influenza B, they should receive preferentially the quadrivalent vaccine subject to availability.
In terms of who should receive the season influenza vaccine, the most recent evidence review by NACI reinforces the fact that healthy individuals aged 5 to 64 benefit from influenza vaccination, over and above the targeted risk groups that have been identified in the past.
NACI has released the following recommendations regarding the use of seasonal influenza vaccines, by way of an interim statement for 2015-2016 on seasonal influenza vaccine:
- In children 2-6 years of age who do not have contraindications, the live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV) is the preferred vaccine product due to superior efficacy in this patient population. Children above the age of 6 likely show a better response to LAIV as well, but the age at which LAIV and trivalent influenza vaccine (TIV) become equally effective is unknown.
- In children with contraindications to LAIV, NACI recommends the use of quadrivalent influenza vaccine or if QIV is unavailable, TIV. This includes children with immune compromising conditions. Also children with severe asthma should receive QIV as the preferred product. Children with other chronic conditions should receive LAIV.
- NACI specifically identifies children with neurological, or neurodevelopment conditions as those for whom influenza vaccine is particularly recommended, following the release of new evidence.
- Adults and children with egg allergies may receive either the quadrivalent or the trivalent vaccines without a prior influenza vaccine skin test and with the full dose in any settings where vaccines are routinely administered, provided that immunizers have the necessary equipment to respond to vaccine emergencies at all times.
2014-2015 Immunization Resources for Pharmacists
2014 Influenza Guide for Pharmacists
This step-by-step influenza guide provides information for pharmacists who are considering initiating immunization programs. A brief summary of the current flu immunization guidelines and guidelines for identifying high-risk patients are described in the guide.
2014 Influenza Pocket Guide
This pocket guide is aimed at helping pharmacists and pharmacy staff to identify patients at high risk for developing influenza-related complications. A dosing schedule, counselling points and list of quick links are provided.
2014 Posters and Handouts
These posters and handouts are designed to raise awareness among patients to get their vaccination. Display these posters in your pharmacy waiting area, counselling room or prescription pick-up counter.
Poster: Get the Flu Vaccine
Handout #1: Know the Flu Facts
Handout #2: Is it a Cold or the Flu?