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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.
This program was developed by The Rx Consultant and published by Continuing Education Network, Inc. The Rx Consultant accepts no advertising or financial support from the pharmaceutical industry and is funded solely by the purchase of programs. The Rx Consultant is dedicated to providing unbiased, balanced information to health care practitioners.
Programs developed by The Rx Consultant are written by health care providers with expertise in the topic area, peer-reviewed, extensively edited, and fact-checked. This development process was created to insure that every program presents information that is current, accurate, relevant to "real world" health care providers, and written in an easy reading, "plain English" style.
The Rx Consultant is a publication of Continuing Education Network, Inc.
ACPE Universal Activity Number: 0428-0000-18-009-H06-P
Chief Editor and CE Administrator
Terry M. Baker, PharmD
Tracy Farnen, PharmD
James Chan, PharmD, PhD
Pharmacy Quality and Outcomes Coordinator
Associate Clinical Professor
Richard Ron Finley, B.S. Pharm.,R.Ph.
Consult Pharmacist Aging and Adult Health Services
Julio R. Lopez, PharmD, FCSHP
Adjunct Clinical Professor
Assistant Clinical Professor
Visiting Associate Professor and Lecturer
Pamela Mausner, MD
Helen Berlie, Pharm.D. CDE, BCACP
Ambulatory Care Specialist - Diabetes
Senior Editorial Advisor
Gerard Hatheway, PharmD, PhD
Belinda M. Danielson, RPh
Christopher M. DeSoto, PharmD
Angie S. Graham, PharmD
Cynthia Chan Huang, PharmD, MBA
Fred Plageman, PharmD
Editorial Advisor and Clinical Practice Consultant for Nurse Practitioners
Meuleman, RN, C, MS
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