Don’t Forget the Flu: What Your Pharmacy Needs to Know about Flu Shots in 2022
Don’t Forget the Flu: What Your Pharmacy Needs to Know about Flu Shots in 2022
By: Mick Polo | Read Time: 9 minutes
The flu vaccine is an important part of staying healthy during the winter months, and it’s especially important for pharmacies to stock up on this year’s vaccine.
While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to provide challenges around the world, influenza viruses still loom. During the 2020-2021 flu season, influenza cases were at record lows due to stay-at-home orders and pandemic precautions.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that in the United States, only 1,675 (0.2%) of 818,939 respiratory specimens tested positive for an influenza virus during this time frame.
However, influenza numbers started to rebuild during the 2021-2022 flu season as people became vaccinated against COVID-19 and restrictions started to lift. The CDC estimates that during the 2021-2022 Season, there were between 8 and 13 million cases of influenza.
As you and your pharmacy prepare for the 2022-2023 flu season, NCDS Medical Billing has identified the key things to keep in mind.
Begin Flu Season Preparations Now
Pharmacies should begin preparations for the upcoming flu season now. All pharmacies will be required to update their information systems to include the flu vaccine for the 2022-23 season, so early preparation will help your pharmacy get ahead.
Experts Predict a Severe Flu Season
One big reason to begin flu season preparations as soon as possible is indicated by the Southern Hemisphere, which has been impacted by a severe flu season. United States health experts typically learn from the Southern Hemisphere’s experience throughout flu season.
Based on the severity and impact that the Southern Hemisphere encounters, experts identify what to expect. In turn, this helps predict what’s to come for the upcoming flu season for the Northern Hemisphere.
Australia has encountered flu rates at levels that haven’t reached these heights in five years, and with flu infections reaching severe levels for the first time since COVID-19 began.
Data from the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care
Additionally, Australia saw an earlier than usual arrival of the flu, which means the virus has more opportunity to spread and reach a higher share of the population. The numbers have since dipped since a heavy onslaught early in the season, which has experts bracing for a resurgence.
Children and Teenagers are at Highest Risk of Flu
As identified by Australia’s National Notifiable Disease Surveillance System (NNDSS), children and teenagers have had confirmed cases of influenza at a higher rate than other age groups. These groups are at the highest risk, underscoring the importance of the flu shot.
NNDSS data of age group influenza rates
Prioritize Knowledge of Flu Vaccine Administration Methods
There are many different types of flu vaccines and different ways to administer these vaccines. Pharmacists need to be familiar with them all. With there being different flu vaccine manufacturers as well as multiple licensed flu vaccines in the United States, pharmacists need to have a strong understanding of each vaccine and their recommended administration method.
The CDC outlines the most popular flu vaccines and their administration methods, and recommends the usage of any licensed flu vaccine (that is age-appropriate) during the current flu season.
Flu Vaccine Types
Available flu vaccines include but aren’t limited to:
- Standard-dose, unadjuvanted quadrivalent influenza shots manufactured using virus grown in eggs (CPT® Code 90672)
- Shields patients from four different flu viruses
- Quadrivalent cell-based influenza shot containing virus grown in cell culture (CPT® Codes 90756 and 90674)
- Licensed for patients 6 months and older
- Recombinant quadrivalent influenza shot (CPT® Code 90682)
- Approved for patients 18 years and older.
- Quadrivalent flu shot using an adjuvant (CPT® Code 90694)
- Approved for patients 65 years old and over
- Quadrivalent high-dose influenza vaccine Fluzone High-Dose (CPT® Code 90662)
- Contains a higher dose of antigen to help create a stronger immune response
- Licensed for patients 65 years old and over
- Live attenuated influenza vaccine should not be given to people who are pregnant, immunocompromised, as well as a few other groupsLive attenuated influenza vaccine FluMist Quadrivalent (CPT® Code 90672)
- Administered intranasally with a nasal sprayer
- Approved for patients 2 through 49 years old
- Live attenuated influenza vaccine should not be given to people who are pregnant, immunocompromised, as well as a few other groups
Flu Vaccination Medical Billing
In addition to understanding how to promote and protect patients’ health by administering the flu vaccine safely, knowledge of medical billing is also key to ensuring your pharmacy is properly compensated for your work.
Between understanding coding for the flu vaccine, billing, and various coverages for the flu vaccine, there are many nuances to get right. The widespread recommendation for vaccines means that a wide variety of billing and payment methods need to be understood and utilized.
Claims and coding for the flu vaccine is not one size fits all, and pharmacy billing varies depending on how the wide net of patients are covered for insurance (or not!). To learn more about the basics for medical billing for pharmacies, read on here.
Ensure Flu Vaccine Accuracy and Safety
Vaccine administration is a critical part of patient care, and pharmacies must take measures to ensure accuracy and safety.
The ACIP (Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices) recommends that everyone 6 months and older is vaccinated against the flu each year.
With this incredibly wide range of patients who are recommended to get the flu vaccine, there are varying needs depending on the patient’s age, medical history, conditions, and more. To ensure that patients receive the vaccine safely and accurately depending on their needs, pharmacies need to be prepared.
(H3) Steps to Provide Proper Flu Vaccine Safety and Accuracy
As outlined in the AMBOSS video below, there are key steps to take to ensure that the flu vaccine is administered with safety and accurately.
- Stay up to date with CDC guidelines to always have the latest information about the flu vaccine
- Confirm materials (such as disposable gloves, vaccine, disinfectant, sharps container, cotton swabs, bandages, etc.), while also taking note of needle length, bandage type, and other important details
- Rule out absolute contraindications to the flu vaccine (such as a relevant allergy or a fever for example) as well as case-by-case decision contraindications
- Provide counseling on the vaccine with vaccine information statements, informing the patient on what to expect
- Prepare for the vaccination by sanitizing and preparing fresh materials
- Confirm vaccine dosage, substance, shelf-life, and administration route
- Prepare injection site
- Administer quickly
- Provide post-injection care and keep an eye on the patient
- Provide final recommendations and advisory
- Complete vaccine documentation
Following these steps help to provide an educated, safe, and positive flu shot experience for the best results for your patients during their visit.
Consult Patients on Their Flu Vaccine Needs
Consulting your patients on the right flu vaccine choice for them is one of the most important aspects of the flu vaccination process. Asking your patients the right questions to help them make an educated choice on if they should get the annual flu vaccine or if they shouldn’t, and when they should get it.
Who Should Get a Flu Shot
- Most people 6 months of age and older
- There are different flu shots for different age groups - all patients should get a vaccine for their appropriate age group
- Pregnant people can safely get a flu shot
- Those with certain chronic health conditions can safely get a flu shot
- Those with an egg allergy can get a flu shot
Who Should Not Get a Flu Shot
- Children under 6 months old are too young for a flu shot
- Those who have life-threatening or severe allergies to any flu vaccine ingredients - not including egg proteins - should not get the vaccine with the allergic ingredient.
- These allergic ingredients could be antibiotics, gelatin, or others.
- For more information on egg allergy consultation, read up on Egg Allergy Special Considerations
- Those who have previously had a severe allergic reaction to a dose of the flu vaccine should not receive the same type of flu vaccine again.
- Ensure to check with patients and ask if they’ve had a severe flu vaccine reaction previously to determine if vaccination is appropriate for them.
Who Should Receive Special Consultation About Flu Vaccines
Those with any of the below conditions should discuss with their health care provider if the flu vaccine is right for their medical needs.
- Egg allergies
- Guillain-Barré Syndrome
- Severe allergic reaction to a previous flu vaccine dose
- If the patient is not feeling well, their symptoms should be discussed
Patients have unique medical situations. By asking the appropriate questions to properly identify the best flu vaccination scenario for your patient, you can consult and point them in the right direction for their health and antiviral treatment.
Be Prepared with Flu Vaccine Expertise
As the provider of the seasonal flu vaccine and as health care professionals, pharmacies and their employees must be ready to provide expertise to patients; this includes information about the flu virus, risk of complications, and common side effects.
Provide Flu Vaccine Expertise with the SHARE Model
Patients may have questions about flu vaccine effectiveness, about their personal situation, and what their specific medical needs are, and pharmacists must be prepared to answer them.
To appropriately provide the most information possible to patients, the CDC recommends the SHARE Model.
The SHARE Model is an easy way to remember how to discuss the flu vaccine with patients, and encourage them to make the right choice for their unique medical position.
Prepare Your Pharmacy for Flu Season
Flu season can be a chaotic time. On top of vaccinations, consultations, and typical non-flu related tasks, pharmacies’ work can pile up.
One way to take the burden off of your pharmacy is to prepare for flu season with a medical billing partner. NCDS Medical Billing has immunization clinic and pharmacy expertise, and can prepare your pharmacy for the upcoming 2022-2023 flu season.
The experts at NCDS Medical billing will navigate you through pharmacy medical billing complications like regulatory changes, denials, vaccine codes and an increase of pharmacists providing clinical care services.
Contact us to see how we can help simplify your pharmacy’s medical billing needs.
Table Of Contents
- Begin Flu Season Preparations Now
- Prioritize Knowledge of Flu Vaccine Administration Methods
- Ensure Flu Vaccine Accuracy and Safety
- Consult Patients on Their Flu Vaccine Needs
- Be Prepared with Flu Vaccine Expertise
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