2017-2018 Flu Season

The CDC reports that getting an annual flu vaccine is the first and best way to protect yourself and your family from the flu. Flu vaccination can reduce flu illnesses, doctors’ visits, and missed work and school due to flu, as well as prevent flu-related hospitalizations. In 2017, a study in Pediatrics was the first of its kind to show that flu vaccination also significantly reduced a child’s risk of dying from influenza. The more people who get vaccinated, the more people will be protected from flu, including older people, very young children, pregnant women, and people with certain long-term health conditions who are more vulnerable to serious flu complications. This page summarizes information for the 2017-2018 flu season.

What’s new this flu season?

A few things are new this season:

  • The recommendation to not use the nasal spray flu vaccine (LAIV) was renewed for the 2017-2018 season. Only injectable flu shots are recommended for use again this season.
  • Flu vaccines have been updated to better match circulating viruses (the influenza A(H1N1) component was updated).
  • Pregnant women may receive any licensed, recommended, and age-appropriate flu vaccine.
  • Two new quadrivalent (four-component) flu vaccines have been licensed: one inactivated influenza vaccine (“Afluria Quadrivalent” IIV) and one recombinant influenza vaccine (“Flublok Qudrivalent” RIV).
  • The age recommendation for “Flulaval Quadrivalent” has been changed from 3 years old and older to 6 months and older to be consistent with FDA-approved labeling.
  • The trivalent formulation of Afluria is recommended for people 5 years and older (from 9 years and older) in order to match the Food and Drug Administration package insert.

What viruses will the 2017-2018 flu vaccines protect against?

There are many different flu viruses and they are constantly changing. The composition of U.S. flu vaccines is reviewed annually and updated as needed to match circulating flu viruses. Flu vaccines protect against the three or four viruses (depending on vaccine) that research suggests will be most common. For 2017-2018, three-component vaccines are recommended to contain:

  • an A/Michigan/45/2015 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus (updated)
  • an A/Hong Kong/4801/2014 (H3N2)-like virus
  • a B/Brisbane/60/2008-like (B/Victoria lineage) virus

When should I get vaccinated?

You should get a flu vaccine before flu begins spreading in your community. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body that protect against flu, so make plans to get vaccinated early in fall, before flu season begins. CDC recommends that people get a flu vaccine by the end of October, if possible. Getting vaccinated later, however, can still be beneficial and vaccination should continue to be offered throughout the flu season, even into January or later.
Children who need two doses of vaccine to be protected should start the vaccination process sooner, because the two doses must be given at least four weeks apart.

Maintaining a Healthy Workplace

All employers should implement a combination of controls to protect workers and reduce the transmission of the seasonal flu virus in the workplace. Workplace controls include:

  • promoting vaccination
  • encouraging sick workers to stay home
  • promoting hand hygiene and cough etiquette
  • keeping the workplace clean

Pandemic flu remains a concern for all employers. A pandemic can occur at any time and can be mild, moderate, or severe. The pandemic in 2009 was considered by HHS/CDC to be mild but it still created challenges for employers and showed that many workplaces were not prepared. Your pandemic flu plan should be based on a "worst-case" scenario – one in which the virus causes severe illness and death in larger numbers of people. Planning for the worst-case ensures that you will have the right type of equipment and an adequate supply of it on hand to protect workers. It also ensures that you have planned for additional control options so that you can pick the right combination for the specific pandemic flu virus. For additional information on pandemic flu planning, see OSHA’s Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for an Influenza Pandemic. Also, please download a copy of RCAB's Pandemic Planning Guide.

Encourage Workers to Get Vaccinated

Encourage workers to get the seasonal flu vaccine when it is available. Consider hosting a flu vaccination clinic in your workplace. For additional information about seasonal flu vaccine priorities, see Key Facts About Seasonal Flu Vaccine.

Encourage Sick Workers to Stay Home

Encourage sick workers to stay home. The HHS/CDC recommends that workers who have a fever and respiratory symptoms stay at home until 24 hours after their fever ends (100 degrees Fahrenheit [37.8 degrees Celsius] or lower), without the use of medication. Not everyone who has the flu will have a fever. Other symptoms could include a runny nose, body aches, headache, tiredness, diarrhea, or vomiting.

Develop flexible leave policies that encourage workers to stay home, without penalty, if they are sick. Discuss other human resource policies with staff, including administrative leave transfer between employees, pay policy for sick leave, childcare options, and what to do when ill during travel.

Develop a Policy for Workers and Clients Who Become Ill in the Workplace

Develop a policy on how to deal with workers and clients who may be ill with the flu and communicate it to your workers. Determine who will be responsible for assisting ill individuals in the workplace and make sure that at least one person can serve as the "go to" person if someone becomes sick in the workplace.

Consider how to separate ill workers from others, or give them a surgical mask to wear, if possible and if they can tolerate it, until they can go home.

Promote Hand Hygiene and Cough Etiquette

Post signs that tell workers, visitors, and clients the steps for proper hand hygiene and cough etiquette. Workers, visitors, and clients should have easy access to supplies such as:

  • "No touch" wastebaskets for used tissues
  • soap and water
  • alcohol-based hand rubs
  • disposable towels
  • cleaning and sanitation materials

Lobbies, halls and restrooms should have the above items and workers should know where these items are located.

Keep the Workplace Clean

  • Frequently clean all commonly touched work surfaces, work areas, and equipment (e.g., telephones, doorknobs, lunch areas, countertops, copiers, etc.).
  • Use the cleaning agents that are usually used in these areas and follow the directions on the label. No additional disinfection beyond routine cleaning is recommended by HHS/CDC.
  • Provide disinfectants and disposable towels for workers to use to clean their work spaces and surfaces and to keep work areas clean.

Educate Workers About the Flu and Conditions That Place Them at Higher Risk for Flu Complications

Train workers about how flu can be transmitted in the workplace and what precautions they can use to prevent transmission. Provide information about the following:

  • signs, symptoms, and complications of the flu
  • policies and procedures for reporting flu symptoms, using sick leave, and returning to work
  • vaccination
  • any required work practices

HHS/CDC has identified groups that have a higher risk for complications from seasonal flu (e.g., pregnant women, persons with asthma, etc.). Inform workers that some people are at higher risk of complications from flu and suggest that they talk to their doctor about their own risk and what to do if they become ill.

Resources

Cleaning and Disinfecting Guidelines

Cold Versus Flu Comparisons