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Seasonal influenza information

Influenza vaccination information

The following is a message from Alberta Health:


Thank you to all pharmacists who participated in the 2019-20 Alberta Influenza Immunization Program.

2019-20 Influenza Season highlights

  • Over 1.38 million Albertans were immunized.
  • Pharmacists immunized over 860,000 Albertans (~ 60 per cent of the total doses).
  • The Alberta influenza immunization rate is currently 32 per cent, a two per cent increase over the 2018-19 season. Of note, the influenza immunization target for all Albertans is 35 per cent.

End date for the 2019-20 Influenza Season

  • The Influenza Immunization Program ends on March 31, 2020.
  • Children five to nine years of age eligible for a second dose of influenza vaccine can receive it until April 30, 2020. Pharmacy wholesale distributors will not be distributing influenza vaccine after March 31, 2020. Pharmacists can complete the second dose until April 30, as influenza vaccine is available. If vaccine is not available at your pharmacy, refer clients to another healthcare practitioner. Alberta Blue Cross will accept claims until April 30 for this age group.

Unused and expired provincially funded influenza vaccine

  • All provincially funded influenza vaccine must be removed from cold chain storage for appropriate destruction by your pharmacy’s standard of practice (Standard 5.13) on May 1.
  • Pharmacy wholesalers cannot accept provincially funded influenza vaccine returns. You are responsible for the proper destruction of unused/expired vaccine. The cost of destruction will not be reimbursed.

Immunization Regulation summary

  • In October 2018, the Government of Alberta established the new Immunization Regulation (Alta. Reg. 182/2018). The Immunization Regulation applies to all privately purchased and provincially funded vaccines.
  • All health practioners, once made aware by a patient, are required to report adverse events following immunization. Whether or not the individual pharmacists administered the vaccine, pharmacists must complete and submit the AEFI report form hosted on the Alberta Health Services website.
  • Pharmacists who administer vaccines and staff who handle vaccines must follow the requirements related to storing, handling, and transporting of vaccines as outlined in the Immunization Regulation.
  • There are new immunization reporting requirements outlined in the Immunization Regulation that come into effect on January 1, 2021.
    • Alberta Health is working with pharmacy vendors to integrate pharmacy point-of-care systems to the Provincial Immunization Repository (Imm/ARI).
    • A privacy impact assessment is required in order for immunization information to be submitted to Imm/ARI.

More information about the Immunization Regulation can be found on Alberta Health's Immunization Policy webpage

If you have any questions, please contact health.imm@gov.ab.ca.


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 2019-20 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.


RxA Seasonal Influenza Vaccine Program 2019-20 – 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 14 (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).


Reporting requirements

Pharmacists should submit claims to Alberta Blue Cross within three business days of providing the service.


Cold chain management

Appropriate storage and handling is essential to provide potent biological products to the public. Detailed requirements are outlined in the Alberta Vaccine Storage and Handling Policy for Provincially Funded Vaccine. All known exposures of 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 vaccine manufacturer within five days for viability determination. A copy of the documentation must be kept with the vaccine. This record must be retained for at least seven years. More details on your roles and responsibilities can be found in the Alberta Vaccine Storage and Handling Policy for Provincially Funded Vaccine. 


Adverse events

Monitoring the health and safety of Albertans is paramount. Immunizers must have protocols in place for management and reporting of anaphylaxis and other serious adverse events.

Report all Adverse Events Following Immunization (AEFI) of influenza vaccine 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.

Details on AEFI reporting, including case definitions and reporting requirements are included in the Adverse Events Following Immunization (AEFI) Policy for Alberta Immunization Providers.

The health practitioner shall ensure that the adverse event following immunization is reported to AHS. Further information on the reporting process and the AEFI report form can be accessed via the AHS website

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: health.imm@gov.ab.ca


Other resources

AHS vaccine storage and handling information

Alberta Health influenza information page 

List of AHS zone contacts for 2019-20 Influenza Immunization Program

Best Practice Guideline for Workplace Health & Safety During Pandemic Influenza

Infection control for Regulated Professionals: Pharmacists' edition via Ontario College of Pharmacists