CDC Urges Routine Vaccinations Despite COVID-19 Pandemic

June 17, 2020

The CDC released an updated vaccination guidance on administering routine vaccinations amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

Although stay-at-home and shelter-in-place orders have resulted in decreased routine immunizations, the CDC is stressing the importance of continuing vaccinations, especially for the upcoming influenza season.

Influenza vaccination will be paramount to reduce the impact of respiratory illnesses in the population and resulting burdens on the health care system during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, CDC said in its updated Interim Guidance for Immunization Services During the COVID-19 Pandemic.

“Ensuring that routine vaccination is maintained or reinitiated during the COVID-19 pandemic is essential for protecting individuals and communities from vaccine-preventable diseases and outbreaks. Routine vaccination prevents illnesses that lead to unnecessary medical visits, hospitalizations and further strain the healthcare system,” the CDC added.

Pharmacists and other vaccination providers should communicate to patients that routine vaccination is an essential preventive care service for children, adolescents, and adults (including pregnant women) that should not be delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“In light of COVID-19-related reductions in people accessing vaccination services, it is important to assess the vaccination status of all children and adolescents at each patient visit to avoid missed opportunities for vaccination and ensure timely vaccine catch-up. All vaccines due or overdue should be administered according to the recommended CDC immunization schedules during that visit, unless a specific contraindication exists, to provide protection as soon as possible as well as minimize the number of healthcare visits needed to complete vaccination,” the agency said.

Regarding the flu vaccine specifically, health care providers should “use every opportunity during the influenza vaccination season to administer influenza vaccines to all eligible persons,” the CDC said.

In particular, essential workers, individuals at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 (those 65 years and older, nursing home residents, those with underlying medical conditions), and other individuals at high risk for influenza complications should receive the flu vaccine.

Vaccination in the patient’s medical home is ideal, CDC said, to “ensure that patients receive other preventive services that may have been deferred during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“However, vaccination at locations outside the medical home may help increase access to vaccines in some populations or situations, particularly when the patient does not have a primary care provider or when care in the medical home is not available or feasible,” CDC said.

Routine vaccination should be deferred for persons with suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19, regardless of symptoms, until criteria have been met for them to discontinue isolation, the agency said.

“While mild illness is not a contraindication to vaccination, vaccination visits for these individuals should be postponed to avoid exposing healthcare personnel and other patients to the virus that causes COVID-19. When scheduling or confirming appointments for vaccination, patients should be instructed to notify the provider’s office in advance if they currently have or develop any symptoms of COVID-19,” CDC said.

References

1. Vaccination Guidance During a Pandemic. Pandemic Guidance CDC. Page last reviewed June 9, 2020. Accessed June 17, 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pandemic-guidance/index.html

2. Discontinuation of Isolation for Persons with COVID-19 Not in Healthcare Settings. Interim Guidance. CDC. Page last reviewed May 29, 2020. Accessed June 17, 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/disposition-in-home-patien...