Seasonal influenza information

Influenza vaccination information

The 2019-20 Alberta Influenza Immunization Program will officially begin the week of October 21, 2019. Alberta Health anticipates that influenza vaccine will begin to be distributed across the province starting the week of September 30, 2019. Pharmacists can offer the vaccine to patients, based on an individual assessment, as soon as they receive it. Large influenza immunization clinics will have enough supply to begin the week of October 21, 2019. Alberta Blue Cross claims will be accepted starting October 1, 2019.

The vaccine distribution process for influenza will remain the same for all health practitioners. All initial orders of supply will be distributed before additional orders can be filled. Please do not request early shipment dates as all shipments will arrive prior to October 21, 2019.

Albertans will be advised to check with their community pharmacist, doctor's office, public health clinic, or call Health Link at 811 to find out when influenza immunization will be available in their area.

For your reference, below are the details of the 2019-20 program.

Age of administration

Pharmacists may administer influenza vaccine to Albertans five years of age and older.

Important considerations to note include the following:

  • Children who are younger than nine years of age and have never received a dose of seasonal influenza vaccine require two doses with a minimum spacing of four weeks between doses.
  • A review of the child’s immunization record can be viewed in Netcare.
  • Pharmacists immunizing children five to eight years of age should be comfortable with appropriate restraint and distraction techniques and be prepared to respond to an emergency event (e.g., anaphylaxis).
  • Pharmacists must submit claims to Alberta Blue Cross within three business days. However, claims for doses administered to a child five to eight years of age should be entered as a priority to prevent delays in updating the child’s immunization record to ensure accuracy of the immunization schedule and history. It takes about two weeks for the immunization record entered into Alberta Blue Cross to be viewed in Netcare.

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