Conference Coverage

ACIP approves flu vaccine recommendations for 2020-2021


A pair of new vaccines for adults aged 65 years and older will be available for the 2020-2021 flu season – Fluzone high-dose quadrivalent, which replaces the trivalent Fluzone high-dose and Fluad quadrivalent (Seqirus), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.

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At a virtual meeting on June 24, the committee voted unanimously to approve the vaccine recommendations for annual influenza immunization of all individuals aged 6 months and older. They also voted to accept some guidance and language changes to the recommendations.

The past flu season was unique in its overlap with the emergence of the COVID-19 coronavirus, which likely contributed to a third peak in reported cases of influenza-like illness at approximately week 14 of last season, said Lisa Grohskopf, MD, of the CDC’s influenza division, who presented data on last year’s activity and the updates for next season.

The CDC estimates that 39,000,000-56,000,000 flu illnesses occurred in the United States from Oct. 1, 2019, to April 4, 2020, said Dr. Grohskopf. Estimates also suggest as many as 740,000 hospitalizations and 62,000 deaths related to the seasonal flu.

Preliminary results of vaccine effectiveness showed 39% overall for the 2019-2020 season, with more substantial protection against influenza B and lower protection against A/H1N1pmd09.

Vaccine safety data from the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System and Vaccine Safety Datalink showed no new safety concerns for any flu vaccine types used last year, Dr. Grohskopf noted.

Based on this information, three components (A/H1N1pdm09, A/H3N2, and B/Victoria) have been updated for the 2020-2021 vaccines, said Dr. Grohskopf. The egg-based influenza vaccines will include hemagglutinin derived from an A/Guangdong-Maonan/SWL1536/2019(H1N1)pdm09–like virus, an A/Hong Kong/2671/2019(H3N2)–like virus and a B/Washington/02/2019 (Victoria lineage)–like virus, and (for quadrivalent vaccines) a B/Phuket/3073/2013 (Yamagata lineage)–like virus.

Nonegg vaccines will contain hemagglutinin derived from an A/Hawaii/70/2019 (H1N1)pdm09–like virus, an A/Hong Kong/45/2019 (H3N2)–like virus, a B/Washington/02/2019 (Victoria lineage)–like virus, and a B/Phuket/3073/2013 (Yamagata lineage)–like virus.

New guidance for next year’s flu season includes a change to the language in the contraindications and precautions table to simply read “Contraindications,” with more details in the text explaining package insert contraindications and ACIP recommendations, Dr. Grohskopf said. In addition, updated guidance clarifies that live-attenuated influenza vaccine quadravalents (LAIV4) should not be used in patients with cochlear implants, active cerebrospinal fluid leaks, and anatomical or functional asplenia, based on ACIP’s review of the latest evidence and the availability of alternative vaccines.

ACIP also updated guidance on the use of antivirals and LAIV4. Based on half-lives, language was added indicating that clinicians should assume interference if antivirals are given within certain intervals of LAIV4, Dr. Grohskopf explained. “Newer antivirals peramivir and baloxavir have longer half-lives than oseltamivir and zanamivir, and insufficient data are available on the use of LAIV4 in the setting of antiviral use.”

The ACIP members had no financial conflicts to disclose.

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