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Seasonal influenza information

2021-22 Influenza vaccination information

The following is a message from Alberta Health:

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Alberta Health Influenza Immunization Policy goals and objectives

The objectives of Alberta’s Influenza Immunization Policy (IIP) are

  • to reduce the incidence and impact of influenza disease in Alberta,
  • to have effective and safe influenza vaccines available for administration,
  • to increase the coverage rates of targeted populations (listed below) annually, and
  • for all people in Alberta to have access to provincially funded influenza vaccine.

The objectives of the IIP can be met when all health practitioners work together to implement the policy. Collaboration, coordination and communication among all health practitioners during all phases of the immunization program is critical to strengthen Alberta’s capacity to reduce the impact of influenza disease and contribute to the health and well-being of Albertans. 

Administration of vaccine 

The Alberta Influenza Immunization Program will begin in October 2021. As part of the Alberta Outreach Program, health practitioners participating in influenza outreach can begin to immunize individuals as soon as influenza vaccine is available. Alberta Outreach Program includes homeless and marginalized persons, individuals with booked public health immunization appointments as well as

  • Long-term care: includes facilities like nursing homes and auxiliary hospitals. Care and accommodation services are provided for people with complex health needs who are unable to remain at home or in a supportive living site.
  • Supportive living: sites that provide accommodation services along with other supports and care, including but not limited to, senior lodges, group homes, mental health and designated supportive living accommodations.

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 vaccine is offered to the general public, while understanding the full amount of vaccine is not available in the province yet. Health practitioners must use their initial supply judiciously. Based on national influenza vaccine supply, it is estimated that all health practitioners will have vaccine in place by the week of October 18, 2021, to begin offering the vaccine broadly.

COVID-19 vaccines

Influenza and COVID-19 vaccines can be administered at the same time. 14 day spacing is required between the COVID-19 vaccine and LIVE vaccines only. Review of the patient's immunization record is required prior to the administration of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.

Influenza vaccine products 

Standard-dose quadrivalent inactivated injectable influenza vaccine (SD-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. 

Immunization Regulation 

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

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

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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 the following vaccine charts for the 2021-22 influenza season:

Alberta Influenza Immunization Policy

The Government of Alberta’s Influenza Immunization Policy for the 2021-22 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 2021-22 – online course

Details of the online course for 2021-22 that provides an overview of policies and procedures for pharmacists participating in the delivery of publicly funded influenza vaccine will be added when avaialble.

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 11 (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

Influenza and other publicly funded immunizations are automatically uploaded to Netcare Imm/ARI when a claim is submitted to the Alberta Blue Cross system, and there is no need to report them using with the Immunization Direct Submission Mechanism (IDSM).

Health practitioners should offer the client a copy of their record of immunization. 

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.

  • Health practitioners who receive influenza vaccine through AHS: send the Alberta Health Services Cold Chain Excursion Report Form to the AHS Zone Contact. For additional information on reporting cold chain excursions, refer to AHS Vaccine Storage and Handling.
  • Community pharmacies and physician clinics (who will received vaccine from Accuristix): 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: health.imm@gov.ab.ca

Other resources