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Providers should target vaccine available in September and October to people at increased risk for influenza complications and to health-care workers. The optimal time for vaccinating high-risk people is October through November. To avoid missed opportunities, vaccine also should be offered to high-risk people when they access medical care in September, if vaccine is available. Vaccinating high-risk people early can be facilitated through reminder and recall systems, in which such patients are identified and encouraged to come into the office for a vaccination-only visit. Additional information that may help providers implement a system for reminder/recalls is available at www.cdc.gov/nip/flu.
Beginning in November, providers should offer vaccine to contacts of high-risk people, healthy people ages 50 to 64, and any other people wanting to reduce their risk for influenza.
Providers should continue vaccinating patients, especially those at high risk and in other target groups, in December and should continue as long as there is influenza activity and vaccine is available. To increase vaccination rates, health care organizations are encouraged to assess their providers’ influenza vaccine use and provide feedback on coverage among those age 65 or older and other high-risk patients.
People at high risk for complications from influenza, including those age 65 years or older and those younger than 65 who have underlying chronic illnesses, should seek vaccination with their provider when vaccine is available. The optimal vaccination period is October through November but may include September if vaccine is available. Unvaccinated high-risk people should continue to seek vaccine later in the season.
People who are not at high risk for complications from influenza, including household contacts of high-risk people, are encouraged to seek influenza vaccine in November and later. Those who are unsure of their risk status should consult their provider to determine whether they should receive vaccine earlier and, if so, whether vaccine will be available. When additional vaccine is available, providers are encouraged to send a reminder to people deferred from vaccination.
Organizers of mass vaccination campaigns not in workplaces (e.g., at health departments, clinics, senior centers, and retail stores) should plan campaigns for late October or November or when they are assured of vaccine supply and make special efforts to vaccinate elderly people and those at high risk for influenza complications. Information that may be used in a campaign setting is available at www.cdc.gov/nip/flu.
Influenza vaccine service providers should develop contingency plans for possible delays in vaccine distribution. In a delay or shortage, communications among partner organizations and potential redirection of vaccine to high-risk people in the community will be important. State and local health departments can provide guidance that is appropriate for their population and systems of care.
As preparation for the 2001/02 influenza season proceeds, updates on vaccine supply and other information about influenza vaccination that may be helpful to providers and health departments, will be available at www.cdc.gov/nip/flu.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta. www.cdc.gov/nip/flu.