Current Flu Situation
Flu activity is increasing in the US. With flu being unpredictable, it’s not possible to say when, where, or how quickly flu activity might increase more, how severe it will be, or which viruses will predominate.
It’s critically important to recommend influenza vaccination to your patients who have not yet received it. With family and friends gathering for the holidays, now is a fine time to get the flu vaccine, if you have not already done so. Remind families that it takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body that protect against influenza infection. Vaccination is the most valuable step anyone can take to protect themselves and their loved ones against influenza and its complications.
In health care settings, optimal prevention of influenza depends on the timely vaccination of all health care personnel. See the recent American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) News articles, “What’s New for 2016-’17 Influenza Season?” and “Don’t Chance It: Annual Flu Shot will Cut Children’s Risk of Illness“.
National Influenza Vaccination Week
National Influenza Vaccination Week (NIVW) is currently underway, taking place December 4-10, 2016. This special week was initiated to continue to encourage vaccination, as vaccine uptake tends to wane this month. While circulation of the influenza viruses is unpredictable, the peak months for influenza illness usually happen in January, February, or March.
Pediatricians are encouraged to join in on the NIVW activities. See the AAP Immunization Campaigns Web page for ways to participate. This Web page includes key points to share with families, flu posters, and resources to share with child care providers.
New Interactive Map Highlights Child Vaccination Rates Across America
The AAP has developed an interactive digital map that highlights state immunization rates for vaccine-preventable diseases, as well as state laws regarding vaccine exemptions. The map, available at https://immunizations.aap.org/, includes data on how each state measures up against immunization thresholds that are important to ensure protection for all.
When a high number of people in a community are vaccinated, it is less likely that a virus will spread, lowering the risk of that disease for the entire community. This “community immunity” threshold varies for each vaccine-preventable disease, which is illustrated in the map.
The AAP supports increasing immunization rates by raising awareness of the protection vaccines offer not only to the public at large, but for the most vulnerable, such as infants less than 6 months of age who cannot receive the vaccine themselves and children who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons. The map illustrates that much work remains to increase vaccination rates, particularly to guard against influenza.
CDC Clinician Outreach and Communication Activity Webinar
In October 2016, the AAP collaborated with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to conduct a webinar titled “What’s New for the 2016-2017 Flu Season: Recommendations for Children“. Presenters highlighted critical information specific to the 2016-2017 flu season, and discussed strategies that primary care providers and medical subspecialists could use to improve flu prevention and control in children. The archived version of the webinar, a transcript, and presentation materials/resources can be viewed online.
AAP Influenza PediaLink Course
This four-part, online course series for clinicians provides key information about the 2016-2017 flu season and identifies critical actions for pediatric clinicians to take. The first course reviews this year’s recommendations to prevent and treat influenza. The second activity focuses on the importance of vaccination among all health care personnel. The third module highlights that influenza vaccine can routinely be given in the office to everyone, even those with presumed egg allergy. The final course covers rapid influenza diagnostic testing.
Parents often have questions and concerns about vaccines and look to pediatricians and other medical professionals for valued, accurate information. The Challenging Cases: Vaccine Hesitancy PediaLink course provides strategies to promote vaccine uptake in vaccine-hesitant parents, including case studies on infant vaccination and Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) vaccination.
For more information, see the AAP Red Book Online Influenza Resource page and CDC FluView. All AAP “What’s the Latest with the Flu” messages are archived. Members of the AAP also have access to Flu Vaccine Recommendations and Key Speaking Points.