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Pandemic Makes Early, Widespread Flu Vaccinations a Necessity

August 28, 2020

With the COVID-19 pandemic still a top health concern, preventing the spread of the flu matters now more than ever. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are encouraging early, widespread vaccinations to protect the vulnerable and reduce the burden on the healthcare system. Little is known about how the pandemic will affect flu season, but getting as many patients vaccinated as early as possible may make a difference. When possible, such considerations should be balanced against the potential waning of protection from influenza vaccination, particularly for persons aged 65 years and up.

CDC Efforts

To increase the availability of flu vaccines, the CDC plans to purchase an additional 2 million doses of pediatric flu vaccine and 9.3 million doses of adult flu vaccine. Manufacturers have projected that they will provide as many as 194-198 million doses of flu vaccine during the 2020-2021 flu season, up from the 175 million dose record set during the 2019-2020 flu season.

The Vaccine

For 2020–2021, the viruses contained in the trivalent (three component) egg-based vaccines are:

  • A/Guangdong-Maonan/SWL1536/2019 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus (updated)
  • A/Hong Kong/2671/2019 (H3N2)-like virus (updated)
  • B/Washington/02/2019 (B/Victoria lineage)-like virus (updated)

The 2020–2021 quadrivalent egg-based vaccines will contain these three viruses as well as the B/Phuket/3073/2013-like (Yamagata lineage)-like virus.

For 2020-2021, cell- or recombinant-based vaccines are recommended to contain:

  • A/Hawaii/70/2019 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus (updated)
  • A/Hong Kong/45/2019 (H3N2)-like virus (updated)
  • B/Washington/02/2019 (B/Victoria lineage)-like virus (updated)
  • B/Phuket/3073/2013-like (Yamagata lineage) virus

How you can help

Health care professionals can play a critical role to ensure that the flu vaccine is administered early and widely. Whenever possible, encourage patients to get vaccinated and follow up during subsequent appointments. For guidance on making a strong recommendation, visit:

It is also recommended that you have a process in place to prevent and manage any flu outbreaks, including social distancing and the use of masks.

COVID-19 Considerations

The CDC has released Interim Guidance for Immunization Services During the COVID-19 Pandemic to help clinicians safely vaccinate patients. Those with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 should delay getting the flu vaccine until they have met the criteria to end isolation.

A test has also been developed to simultaneously check for A and B type seasonal flu viruses and SARS CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted an Emergency Use Authorization and initial tests were sent out in early August 2020. This test will not replace others already in use.

For the most up-to-date data, guidelines, and FAQs this flu season, visit the links below.

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