Timing of Vaccination
Influenza Prevention and Control Recommendations
Published for the 2010-11 Influenza Season; Adapted for the 2012-13 Influenza Season
Vaccination efforts should be structured to ensure the vaccination of as many persons as possible over the course of several months, with emphasis on vaccinating before influenza activity in the community begins. Even if vaccine distribution begins before October, distribution probably will not be completed until December or January. The following recommendations reflect this phased distribution of vaccine.
In any given year, the optimal time to vaccinate patients cannot be determined precisely because influenza seasons vary in their timing and duration, and more than one outbreak might occur in a single community in a single year. In the United States, localized outbreaks that indicate the start of seasonal influenza activity can occur as early as October. However, in more than 80% of influenza seasons since 1976, peak influenza activity (which often is close to the midpoint of influenza activity for the season) has not occurred until January or later, and in more than 60% of seasons, the peak was in February or later. In general, health care providers should begin offering vaccination before flu starts to spread in the community. To avoid missed opportunities for vaccination, providers should offer vaccination during routine health care visits or during hospitalizations whenever vaccine is available.
Vaccination efforts should continue throughout the season, because the duration of the influenza season varies and influenza might not appear in certain communities until February or March. Providers should offer influenza vaccine routinely, and organized vaccination campaigns should continue throughout the influenza season, including after influenza activity has begun in the community. Vaccine administered in December or later, even if influenza activity has already begun, is likely to be beneficial in the majority of influenza seasons. The majority of adults have antibody protection against influenza virus infection within 2 weeks after vaccination.
All children aged 6 months--8 years who are recommended for 2 doses should receive their first dose as soon after vaccine becomes available as is feasible and should receive the second dose 4 or more weeks later. This practice increases the opportunity for both doses to be administered before or shortly after the onset of influenza activity.
Planners are encouraged to develop the capacity and flexibility to schedule at least one vaccination clinic in December. Guidelines for planning large-scale vaccination clinics, including school-based clinics, are available at CDC Guidelines for Large-Scale Influenza Vaccination Clinic Planning.
During a vaccine shortage or delay, substantial proportions of TIV or LAIV doses might not be released and distributed until November and December or later. When the vaccines are substantially delayed or disease activity has not subsided, providers should consider offering vaccination clinics into January and beyond as long as vaccine supplies are available.