This issue provides key information on influenza vaccines and antiviral medications for the 2018-2019 flu season, including precautions, side effects, and use in special populations.
Influenza (commonly referred to as “the flu”) is a contagious viral infection of the respiratory tract (eg, nose, throat, and lungs). Influenza viruses are primarily spread by respiratory transmission – through droplets from coughing or sneezing. The circulation of influenza viruses varies geographically, with transmission occurring between October and May in the Northern Hemisphere of the temperate region (which includes the US), April and September in the Southern Hemisphere of the temperate region, and year-round in tropical/sub-tropical regions. In the US, peak influenza activity often occurs in January and February.
The flu can affect people of all ages, most frequently schoolaged children, usually causing asymptomatic infection or mild to moderate illness. Severe illness and death occur most often in vulnerable populations (eg, infants, elderly, and immunocompromised individuals). Each year, influenza affects 5-20% of the US population and causes 3,000-49,000 deaths from influenza-related complications. In the 2016-2017 season, 31 million Americans were infected, 14.5 million sought medical care, and 600,000 individuals were hospitalized due to influenza.
Influenza vaccination is an important primary prevention strategy. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends routine vaccination for all persons 6 months and older (unless contraindicated) starting in early fall, as soon as the
vaccine becomes available. The vaccine is available in a variety of formulations; however, the ACIP makes no preferential recommendation and encourages vaccination with any licensed, age-appropriate vaccine during the 2018-2019 season. Despite the ACIP’s universal recommendation for influenza vaccination, only 47% of the target population in the US (individuals 6 months and older) received the vaccine during the 2016-2017 season.
- Pharmacists, Nurse Practitioners, Clinical Nurse Specialists, and Registered Nurses
This CE activity was developed by The Rx Consultant, a publication of Continuing Education Network, Inc.
CE activities for Pharmacists and Pharmacy Technicians:
This continuing education (CE) activity meets the requirements of all state boards of pharmacy for approved continuing education hours. CE credit is automatically reported to CPE Monitor.
CE activities for Nurse Practitioners and Clinical Nurse Specialists:
This continuing education activity meets the requirements of:
The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) for formally approved continuing education (CE) hours, and CE hours of pharmacotherapeutics.
The American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Program (AANPCP) for acceptable, accredited CE.
This is a pharmacotherapeutics/pharmacology CE activity.
Continuing Education Network, Inc. is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education as a provider of continuing pharmacy education.
Requirements for CE Credit
- Describe the influenza disease course, symptoms, and diagnostic tests. Recognize people at high risk for flu complications.
- Describe the determinants for influenza vaccine efficacy. Discuss the rationale for the suboptimal efficacy of the 2017-2018 vaccines, and recommendations for the use of LAIV vaccine in 2018-2019.
- State the indications, dosing requirements (children and adults), administration routes, side effects, and contraindications for 2018-2019 influenza vaccinations.
- Discuss the use of antiviral drugs for influenza treatment and prevention; be able to apply the current recommendations for their use.
Richard Dang , PharmD
Brief Bio : Richard Dang, PharmD, Post-Graduate year 1 Pharmacy Practice Resident in Community Pharmacy , USC School of Pharmacy,