Supporting flu vaccine access
From physicians’ offices to pharmacies to hospitals and beyond, there are multiple options where people can get their flu shot. As a distributor, we strive to make sure that no matter where patients choose to get vaccinated, there will be adequate supply. Access and choice at the location where it makes sense for each patient helps make the logistics of getting the flu shot easier.
Our distribution model supports relationships with multiple flu vaccine manufacturers. In the past, if one manufacturer had a delay, we worked to get customers other vaccines until their original order was back on track.
The entire extended health community has a role to play in promoting the importance of flu vaccine for appropriate patients. Here are some suggestions for way that you may choose to promote vaccine use for appropriate patients:
- Healthcare workers are the best ambassador for the flu shot, as they can encourage patients by example. In its most recent figures, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports approximately 80 percent of healthcare providers got a flu vaccine for the 2019-2020 influenza season. 1 Ask vaccinated staff to wear stickers saying, “I got my flu shot, did you?” This will act as a reminder to staff and patients alike to ask for the shot while they are in the office.
- Sites of care can remove barriers to employees getting the shot by providing it for free, as appropriate, by making it available at multiple times and locations, and by educating new employees on the risks and benefits of vaccination. According to the Centers for Disease Control, vaccine coverage was only 52 percent among healthcare personnel working in locations where employers did not have any vaccination-related requirements or provisions.1
- Modest prizes for staff who get their vaccination first, as appropriate pursuant to your institutions policies and other regulations, may encourage early uptake and give campaigns momentum. Larger organizations can run internal competitions to see which department or team gets the highest vaccination rate, as permitted by internal policies and regulations.
In an article published in Nature, experts hypothesize that safety precautions from COVID-19—remote work and learning, mask wearing, social distancing, frequent hand washing—contributed to a decline in seasonal flu diagnoses for the 2019-2020 flu season.2 While there might be a correlation between safety precautions and the drop in flu cases, the vaccine remains a definitive way to curb the spread of the flu.
Another Nature article, The coronavirus is here to stay — here’s what that means, contains scientists’ predictions COVID might never be eradicated and instead turn into a seasonal healthcare event that needs to be appropriately addressed and managed. 3 The Immunization Action Coalition explains increasing flu vaccinations will help to save healthcare resources for patients with COVID.4
We want providers to have access to as many products as possible. Flu is just one part of our portfolio; we have a complete suite of pediatric and adult vaccines available for all sites of care. It’s just one more way we are united in our responsibility to create healthier futures.
Centers for Disease Control. Influenza Vaccination Coverage Among Health Care Personnel — United States, 2019–20 Influenza Season. 1 October 2020. Accessed 20 April 2021. Available online at: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/fluvaxview/hcp-coverage_1920estimates.htm#anchor_1568313419899
Jones, Nicola. How COVID-19 is changing the cold and flu season. Nature. 15 December 2020. Accessed 20 April 2021. Available online at: https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-03519-3
Phillips, Nicky. The coronavirus is here to stay — here’s what that means. Nature. 16 February 2021. Accessed 20 April 2021. Available online at: https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-00396-2
Immunization Action Coalition. Communicating the Benefits of Seasonal Influenza Vaccine during COVID-19. Accessed 20 April 2021. Available online at: https://www.immunize.org/catg.d/p3115.pdf