Seasonal influenza information
2020-21 Influenza vaccination information
The following is a message from Alberta Health:
Alberta Health Influenza Immunization Program Goals and Objectives
The 2020-2021 Influenza Immunization Program will continue to be offered universally. Influenza immunization service delivery will be focused on increasing the immunization rates for high-risk populations, who are most at risk for morbidity and mortality due to influenza disease.
Influenza Vaccine Availability
The Alberta Influenza Immunization Program will begin in October. As part of the Alberta Outreach Program, immunizers participating in influenza outreach can begin to immunize individuals as soon as influenza vaccine is available, which is anticipated by October 13, 2020. Alberta's universal influenza immunization program will begin for all Albertans on October 19, 2020. This includes both on-site and offsite administration. Immunization of high-risk populations is a priority, health practitioners have to use clinical judgement when deciding to immunize clients who are at high-risk before the universal start date, while understanding the full amount of vaccine is not available in the province yet. Health practitioners must use their initial supply judiciously.
Influenza Vaccine Products
Quadrivalent inactivated injectable influenza vaccine (QIV) is the provincially funded vaccine available to Albertans six months of age and older. High-dose trivalent inactivate injectable vaccine will be available to individuals who are 65 years of age and older and residing in Long-Term Care (see definition).
The Alberta Immunization Regulation sets out requirements to standardize practices for all immunization providers, regardless of whether a vaccine is provincially funded or privately purchased.
More information about the Immunization Regulation can be found on Alberta Health's Immunization Policy webpage. This page includes an updated Fluzone High-Dose Influenza Vaccine Information for Health Professionals document to include the addition of Fluzone HD vaccine for individuals 65 years of age or older who reside in provincially funded long-term care beds. It also provides a link to Alberta Health's guidance document for influenza immunization during COVID-19.
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Influenza Immunization Program
The Influenza Immunization Program’s website includes information for the public, facts about influenza, and AHS Influenza clinics.
The site also includes a section for healthcare professionals, which features the influenza vaccine provider registration form and ordering, information specifically for pharmacists, general references, and monthly newsletters.
Alberta Health has provided this vaccine chart for the 2019-20 influenza season.
Alberta Influenza Immunization Policy
The Government of Alberta’s Influenza Immunization Policy for the 2020-21 influenza season includes information about the purpose of the policy, Alberta’s targets for influenza immunization, who is eligible, supply, distribution and administration of vaccine, cold chain management, adverse events, and recording and reporting requirements.
For more information or to read the policy, visit the Alberta Health website.
Guidance for influenza vaccine delivery in the presence of COVID-19
ACP has published a guidance document, Administering influenza vaccinations to patients during the COVID-19 pandemic, which is available on ACP's Seasonal influenza information webpage. The guidance includes direction for pharmacy teams on pharmacy setup, patient screening, prevention and exposure control, and post-immunization requirements.
Health Canada has also published guidance for the delivery of seasonal influenza vaccine in the fall of 2020, when ongoing COVID-19 activity may continue to stress public health capacity and affect clinic operations and attendance. The guidance was developed by the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) in consultation with the Canadian Immunization Committee and the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI).
RxA Seasonal Influenza Vaccine Program 2020-21 – online course
This online course provides an overview of policies and procedures for pharmacists participating in the delivery of publicly funded influenza vaccine.
Can pharmacists administer influenza vaccine outside of a pharmacy?
Yes. However, there are some restrictions. For a complete list of potential locations, requirements, and restrictions, refer to page 15 (appendix) of the Alberta Influenza Immunization Policy.
Keep in mind that the Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice for Pharmacists and Pharmacy Technicians still apply when providing a pharmacy service outside of a pharmacy. In particular, note Principle 4.6 of the Code of Ethics regarding patient privacy, and Standards 16 through 18 regarding ensuring proper procedures and environment (Standard 16), ensuring patient safety (Standard 17), and creating and maintaining patient records (Standard 18).
For the 2020-2021 influenza season, reporting capabilities will vary as health practitioners are in the process of moving to electronic reporting to meet the reporting requirements outlined in the Immunization Regulation.
- During the transition period aggregate data and Alberta Blue Cross (ABC) claims (which are uploaded in Imm/ARI) will be accepted for the duration of the 2020-2021 influenza season.
- For immunizers who receive vaccine through AHS
- If electronic submission functionality is not yet available, aggregate data should be submitted, at minimum monthly, to Alberta Health Services.
- All doses administered to children nine years of age and under that cannot be reported electronically to Imm/ARI must be submitted to AHS for data entry using the Influenza/Pneumococcal Immunization Record.
- Community Pharmacists must submit claims to Alberta Blue Cross within three business days to assist with influenza vaccine supply monitoring and updating.
- Immunizers should provide the client with their record of immunization if requested.
Vaccine storage and handling
The requirements for the storage, handling and transportation of all vaccines are outlined in the Immunization Regulation. Additionally the Alberta Vaccine Storage and Handling Policy for Provincially Funded Vaccine is to be followed. All known exposures of influenza vaccine to temperatures outside +2.0°C to +8.0°C or light requirements as specified in the product monograph must be reported.
Community Pharmacists: Report cold chain excursions to the influenza vaccine manufacturer within five days for viability determination. A copy of the documentation must be kept with the vaccine and this record must be retained for at least seven years.
Reporting adverse events following immunization
Monitoring the health and safety of Albertans who receive vaccines is paramount. Immunizers must have protocols in place for the management and reporting of anaphylaxis and other serious adverse events. The health practitioner shall ensure that the adverse event following immunization is reported to AHS within three days of being informed. When the adverse event is severe (e.g., anaphylaxis), the event should be reported within 24 hours.
Please visit the AHS website for further information on the reporting process and to access the AEFI report form. Details on AEFI reporting, including case definitions and reporting requirements are included in the Adverse Events Following Immunization (AEFI) Policy for Alberta Immunization Providers.
For further information, please refer to Standard 5.3 of the Standards of Practice for Pharmacists and Pharmacy Technicians regarding reporting requirements for adverse reactions, and Standard 6.4 of the Standards for the Operation of Licensed Pharmacies regarding reporting requirements for adverse reactions.
Also, as outlined in Standard 16, a pharmacist who administers a drug, blood product, or vaccine must have policies and procedures for handling emergencies.
The Incident Analysis Process Summary and Quick Reference Guide is a great resource.
What if I’m not participating in the program?
Even if you don't administer vaccine, you can still play a key role in immunizations as educators and facilitators. We urge you to provide your patients with accurate information regarding influenza immunizations, including referral to an AHS Public Health immunization clinic, particularly for those patients in high risk groups. You can find more information on the AHS website.
Questions regarding the Influenza Immunization Program or Policy?
Email Alberta Health at: email@example.com
Infection control for Regulated Professionals: Pharmacists' edition via Ontario College of Pharmacists
Common questions from patients about influenza immunization via MyHealth Alberta