The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) hosted  their annual press conference to kickoff flu vaccination season last week. CDC recommends that people get a flu vaccine by the end of October before the flu starts spreading through their community. It takes about two weeks after for antibodies that protect against flu to develop in the body, however, getting vaccinated later can still be beneficial. CDC estimates that flu has resulted in between 9.2 million and 35.6 million illnesses each year in the United States.

CDC recommends annual influenza vaccination for everyone 6 months and older, and particularly important for groups at highest risk of severe illness, which include adults over age 65, children under age 5, pregnant women and those with underlying health conditions, such as lung or heart disease. There are many different flu viruses and they are constantly changing. The composition of U.S. flu vaccines is reviewed annually and updated as needed to match circulating flu viruses. Flu vaccines protect against the three or four viruses (depending on the vaccine) that research suggests will be most common for that year. This means even if someone received the flu vaccine last year, they need a new one this year.

CDC has released a seasonal flu vaccination campaign toolkit to assist in communicating about the importance of vaccinations. The toolkit includes events/activity details, sample social media and newsletter content, graphics, web assets and media prep material.  Resources within the toolkit are downloadable, shareable and some items are customizable. Be sure to utilize the factsheet and post the flu IQ widget and the flu vaccine finder widget on your Web site to help spread awareness on the importance of vaccinations.

Great Plains QIN is actively working with providers, patients, partners and stakeholders to implement best practices to increase immunization rates for influenza, pneumococcal disease and herpes zoster.

According to the CDC, immunization rates among adults in the United States are much lower than national targets. Several interventions, however, have proven successful. For example, recommendations from healthcare professionals have repeatedly shown to increase immunization rates. System-level changes that include routine vaccine assessment, recommendations and administration also lead to improvement.