The 2022-2023 Flu Season: What Pharmacists Need to Know

Last updated Jan 10, 2023 | Health Trends, Pharmacy Management, Pharmacy News

The 2022-2023 flu season has been one for the books so far and considering flu season typically lasts until May, we’re nowhere near out of the woods yet. Here we have broken down the season so far and what you need to know as we move into the latter half of this year’s flu season.

Flu Illnesses This Season

Hospitalizations From The Flu

Deaths From The Flu

 First, let’s start off by discussing what the flu is. According to the CDC, the “Flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and sometimes the lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The best way to prevent flu is by getting a flu vaccine each year.”

Getting Vaccinated for the Flu

The CDC says ideally, everyone who is eligible for a flu vaccine should be vaccinated by the end of October – the ideal time to get vaccinated being September or October. It is important to note, if a patient misses this time frame and would like to receive the vaccine after October, the CDC notes that it is still helpful in preventing disease during peak season. 

Flu Prevention

Now, your patients are vaccinated and may be wondering what they can do to stay healthy. Below are a few ways they can stay healthy and/or prevent disease spread.

  1. Encourage your patients to stay home when they are sick
  2. Advise patients to cover their coughs and sneezes
  3. Encourage your patients to wash their hands often and thoroughly
  4. Inform patients to avoid touching their eyes, nose, or mouth unnecessarily
  5. Advise patients to maintain good overall hygiene

2022-2023 Flu Season

As we look at the 2022-2023 flu season, what’s new for this year?

  • The composition of flu vaccines has been updated.
  • There are three flu vaccines that are preferentially recommended for people 65 years and older.
    •  Fluzone High-Dose Quadrivalent vaccine, Flublok Quadrivalent recombinant flu vaccine and Fluad Quadrivalent adjuvanted flu vaccine.
  • The age indication for the cell culture-based inactivated flu vaccine, Flucelvax Quadrivalent (ccIIV4), changed from 2 years and older to 6 months and older.

Where Are We Now?

According to the CDC’s Weekly Surveillance report, let’s discuss where we are currently (early Jan 2023) in this year’s flu season:

  • Seasonal influenza activity remains high but continues to decline in most areas.
  • Of influenza A viruses detected and subtyped during week 51 of the year, 83% were influenza A(H3N2) and 17% were influenza A(H1N1).
  • CDC estimates that, so far this season, there have been at least 20 million illnesses, 210,000 hospitalizations, and 13,000 deaths from flu.
  • All viruses collected and evaluated this season have been susceptible to the influenza antivirals oseltamivir, peramivir, zanamivir, and baloxavir.

Continue to Educate & Communicate with Patients

With flu activity still showing at least 19% positivity on laboratory testing, this season is far from over. Therefore, it is imperative to continue to educate and encourage your patients to take precautions to limit disease for not only them but their community as well. Below are a few ways to help you efficiently communicate with your patients this flu season. 

  • Use a digital communication platform with clinical identification capabilities to target patients eligible for, or potentially in need of, specific vaccinations including flu shots. For patients who have already opted for basic immunizations like the flu shot, communicate other prevention methods to help them stay healthy. 
  • Add updates or information on vaccination service information to your pharmacy IVR greeting or on-hold messages. 
  • Create a website banner or graphic with updates on the flu and/or reminders to encourage flu shots. 

To learn more about how digital communication and engagement tools can help you communicate with your patients this flus season, get in touch today

 

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