Getting the flu shot: Patients rely on strong recommendation from clinicians

By Liz Meszaros, MDLinx
Published October 17, 2017

Key Takeaways

US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations call for everyone 6 months of age and older to have a yearly influenza vaccine, and to do so by the end of October, if possible. And while most adults are convinced of the importance of a flu vaccine, studies show that they are more likely to be vaccinated if their doctor or health care provider recommends it to them.

Experts from the CDC have compiled a list of tips for clinicians on how to make a strong flu vaccine recommendation to their patients. It involves the SHARE method:

  • Share the reasons why the influenza vaccine is right for the patient with considerations for age, health status, lifestyle, occupation, or other risk factors. Example: “This vaccine can protect you and your family from getting sick from flu. By getting the shot today, you’ll be protecting yourself and the people around you who are more vulnerable to serious flu illness, like your children and parents.”
  • Highlight positive experiences with the influenza vaccine in order to reinforce its benefits and strengthen the patient’s confidence in vaccination. Tell patients that you and the CDC recommend being vaccinated each year for influenza.
  • Address any patient questions and concerns about the vaccine, including side effects, safety, and vaccine efficacy in plain language that is easy for the patient to understand. Example: “A flu shot cannot cause flu illness. Flu shots are made either with flu vaccine viruses that have been ‘inactivated’, making them not infectious, or with no flu vaccine viruses at all. The most common side effects of an influenza vaccine are mild redness, swelling, or pain in your arm where the shot was given. This should go away within a few days.”
  • Remind patients that influenza vaccines protect them and their loved ones from serious flu illness and related complications.
  • Explain the potential costs of actually getting the flu, including serious health effects, time lost from work or family obligations, and financial costs. Example: “It’s important to get vaccinated this season because flu vaccination can reduce potential flu illnesses, doctor visits, and missed work and school due to flu.”

For the 2017–2018 flu season, the CDC recommends the following flu vaccines:

  • Trivalent (3-STRAIN): Contains the three most common influenza strains predicted to be circulating. Recommended for anyone 6 months and older.
  • Quadrivalent (4-STRAIN): Contains the three common influenza strains predicted to be circulating, plus an additional strain. Recommended for anyone 6 months or older.
  • Adjuvanted and high-dose: Designed to elicit a stronger immune response. Recommended for adults aged 65 years and older.
  • Recombinant: Vaccine produced without the use of influenza virus or chicken eggs. Recommended for adults 18 years and older.

The CDC does not recommend the live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV) for the 2017–2018 flu season.

For more information about the influenza vaccines available and supplies for the 2017–2018 season, go to Seasonal Influenza Vaccine Supply for the U.S. 2017-2018 Influenza Season

Additional Resources

ACIP Recommendations

Seasonal Influenza Vaccination Resources for Health Professionals

Free Patient Resources

Frequently Asked Flu Questions 2017-2018

Inactivated Flu Vaccine: Vaccination Information Statement

Live, Intranasal Flu Vaccine: Vaccination Information Statement

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