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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 Carlo Berardi outlining important information for the 2015-2016 influenza season.

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) 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.

2015-2016 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 is unlikely to span two or more influenza seasons.

CPhA has updated the influenza resources for pharmacists according to the NACI 2015-2016 flu season recommendations.
In terms of who should receive the seasonal influenza vaccine, the most recent evidence review by NACI reinforces the fact that healthy individuals aged 5 to 64 benefit from influenza vaccination, in addition to the targeted risk groups that have been identified in the past.

NACI has released the following updates in the Canadian Immunization Guide Chapter on Influenza and Statement on Seasonal Influenza Vaccine for 2015-2016 regarding the use of seasonal influenza vaccines:

  1. NACI recommends the quadrivalent influenza vaccine (QIV) for children 6-23 months old due to the high burden of influenza B in children.
  2. NACI recommends the live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV) for healthy children and adolescents 2 to 17 years of age who do not have contraindications to the vaccine. In children 2-6 years of age 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.
  3. 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.
  4. NACI specifically identifies children with neurological, or neurodevelopment conditions as those for whom influenza vaccine is particularly recommended, following the release of new evidence.
  5. NACI has updated the definition of oculo-respiratory syndrome to be consistent with the user guide for reporting adverse events following immunization.
  6. NACI recommends that LAIV can be given together with, or at any time before or after the administration of any other live attenuated or inactivated vaccine.
  7. 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.

2015 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.