5 Things to Know About This Early Flu Season From CDC's Lynnette Brammer, MPH

Lynnette Brammer, MPH


November 28, 2022

Editorial Collaboration

Medscape &

1. There's a lot of flu out there.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's FluView report, flu activity is elevated across the country, and flu hospitalization rates are the highest we have seen at this time in a decade. Hospitalization rates are highest among adults 65 years or older (18.6 per 100,000), followed by children younger than 5 years (13.6 per 100,000). Indicators used to track flu deaths are starting to rise. For communities that have not yet seen a lot of flu, it's coming. Now is a great time to get yourself, your staff, and your patients vaccinated.

2. There is more than one group of flu viruses spreading this season.

H3N2 flu viruses have been most common so far, but an increasing proportion of H1N1 flu viruses has been detected recently. Flu vaccines protect against four different viruses, so vaccination efforts should continue, even among people who have already gotten flu this season, because they are vulnerable to infection with other flu viruses. Now is a great time to get yourself, your staff, and your patients vaccinated.

3. So far, laboratory data suggest that vaccination with this season's flu vaccines will trigger an immune response to most of the viruses we are seeing this season.

Most of the flu viruses studied this season are genetically related to the vaccine viruses in this season's vaccines. Also, antibodies produced in ferrets against the current vaccine viruses have shown that antibodies from vaccination with this season's flu vaccines react well against most of the flu viruses so far this season. These data are promising as they relate to how well this season's flu vaccines will protect against flu. Now is a great time to get yourself, your staff, and your patients vaccinated.

4. Fewer people are vaccinated against flu this season.

Fewer people are getting vaccinated this season. Data on adult flu vaccination show that more than 4 million fewer vaccines have been administered in pharmacies and doctors' offices this season compared with last. Especially worrisome for pregnant people, overall flu vaccination coverage at the end of October 2022 was nearly 12 percentage points lower compared with the end of October 2021 and more than 21 percentage points lower than at the end of October 2020. There are many people who are still unvaccinated and therefore more vulnerable to flu.

5. As a healthcare professional, your strong recommendation is a critical factor in whether your patients get an influenza vaccine.

Your strong recommendation and offer of vaccination can determine whether your patients choose to get vaccinated. The CDC recommends the "SHARE" method for a successful campaign.

  • S: Share why an influenza vaccine is right for the patient given their age, health status, lifestyle, occupation, or other risk factors.

  • H: Highlight experiences with influenza vaccines (personal or in your practice), as appropriate, to reinforce the benefits and strengthen confidence in influenza vaccination.

  • A: Address patient questions and any concerns about influenza vaccines — including, for example, side effects, safety, and vaccine effectiveness — in plain and understandable language. Acknowledge that while people who get an influenza vaccine may still get sick, there are studies to show that their illness may be less severe.

  • R: Remind patients that influenza vaccines help protect them and their loved ones from serious influenza illness and complications that can result in hospitalization or even death for some people.

  • E: Explain the potential costs of getting influenza, including potential serious health effects for the patient, time lost (such as missing work or family obligations), financial costs, and potentially spreading flu to more vulnerable family members and friends.

Now is a great time to put these tips into action to get yourself, your staff, and your patients vaccinated.

More information on making a strong flu vaccine recommendation is available from CDC.


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