Seasonal Flu Vaccines Save Lives and Reduce Unnecessary Hospitalizations

Aug. 31, 2015

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), although most persons who become infected with influenza viruses will recover without sequelae, influenza can cause serious illness and death. Complications are particularly common among persons aged ≥65 years and <2 years (and those with medical conditions that confer high risk for complications from influenza). Estimated influenza-associated deaths range from 3,000 to 49,000 annually in the United States. Annual influenza vaccination is the primary means of preventing influenza and its complications. The most complete information about influenza vaccination rates nationally is for Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries. For the 2014-2015 flu season, the national rate was 50 percent, indicating that half of the Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries did not receive a flu shot. In some areas of the country, the influenza vaccination rate was much lower. Seniors are often the population with the highest influenza vaccination rates, so information about Medicare patients is useful in demonstrating the need to focus on flu shots. An interactive map  that shows 2014-2015 flu shot rates by county and zip code.

Flu Vaccine for 2015-2016

This season, the flu vaccines are designed to protect against the flu viruses expected to be the most common:

  • an A/California/7/2009 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus
  • an A/Switzerland/9715293/2013 (H3N2)-like virus
  • a B/Phuket/3073/2013-like virus

In addition, some of the 2015-2016 flu vaccine is quadrivalent, and also protects against B/Brisbane/60/2008-like virus.

According to the CDC, the 2015-2016 vaccines are available in formulations for four routes of administration:

  • Intramuscular: Trivalent and quadrivalent formulations are available for IM. administration. High dose vaccines will all be trivalent this season.
  • Jet Injector: One trivalent vaccine is available for administration by jet injector for those 18 through 64 years old.
  • Nasal spray: The nasal spray vaccines are all quadrivalent.
  • Intradermal vaccine: These vaccines are all quadrivalent.

The CDC makes many influenza vaccination patient education materials , including brochures, fact sheets, posters, stickers, podcasts and videos, available on the following website at no charge.

Patients win when they are immunized for the flu as they can reduce their risk of being sick, missing work, and the need for hospitalization. By increasing the percentage of citizens who receive influenza vaccine, physicians and other healthcare providers can help reduce the burden of influenza and its complications.

View 2015 news and updates