The burden of influenza on affected individuals and the healthcare system, as well as on society, is substantial. Although the supply of an effective and safe influenza vaccine was limited in previous years, advances in manufacture and distribution have alleviated such shortages. In most seasons, millions of doses go unused, and large numbers of unvaccinated, at-risk persons are left vulnerable to infection and its complications. According to insurance claims data, high-risk patients are seen by their healthcare providers on average 2.2 times between the peaks in vaccination (November) and in disease activity (February), yet they remain unvaccinated. The current 2- to 3-month time frame over which patients are traditionally immunized is too short to fully implement immunization recommendations and inconsistent with the duration of influenza activity. Both healthcare providers and patients should reevaluate their approach to influenza vaccination and recognize the need to extend the immunization time period into January and beyond. To increase influenza immunization rates, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other professional societies recommend an expanded immunization season, with vaccination offered at every opportunity between October and May.
- Influenza season
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