Report 15 September 2021

Influenza vaccination during the COVID-19 pandemic

By IFPMA

This report aims to support policymakers, health service planners and other key stakeholders in the planning and delivery of the 2021/22 flu vaccination program.

We first describe the unique challenges to preventing flu during the COVID-19 pandemic and define priority groups for vaccination. Based on our review of peer-reviewed and gray literature, we then present four policy priorities for addressing those challenges so that the most vulnerable people in our society are protected from flu during the 2021/22 season.

Key messages

  • Given the continued impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the unpredictability of the influenza (flu) virus, flu vaccination could be more important than ever in the 2021/22 flu season. It can protect the most vulnerable people and prevent health systems from becoming overburdened.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic will introduce challenges that could hamper delivery and uptake of flu vaccines among priority groups.
  • To protect the most vulnerable people during the 2021/22 flu season, when they are also at risk of contracting COVID-19, policymakers and health service planners must:
  • Enable convenient access to vaccines in both community and healthcare settings, with appropriate COVID-19 protection measures in place.
  • Use the latest evidence to ensure all priority groups, including those at risk of spreading flu to vulnerable people, are eligible for reimbursed vaccination.
  • Coordinate flu and COVID-19 vaccination programs to ensure flu vaccines are given in a timely manner, but not before September in the northern hemisphere.
  • Work with communities and advocacy and patient groups to develop clear, targeted information campaigns aimed at priority groups, which focus on overcoming complacency and clarifying the challenges associated with flu and COVID-19.

This report was funded by the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations (IFPMA). The content was developed by The Health Policy Partnership (HPP) in close consultation with the Influenza Vaccine Supply Task Force, which is formed of representatives from a number of IFPMA members. The report is based on desk research, supplemented by an expert interview. HPP and IFPMA are grateful to Ilaria Passarani, Secretary General of the Pharmaceutical Group of the European Union, who volunteered to be interviewed for this project. She did not receive financial compensation for her time.

This report was written by Taylor Morris and Jody Tate of HPP.

About IFPMA

The International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA) represents over 90 innovative pharmaceutical companies and associations across the globe. Based in Geneva, IFPMA has official relations with the United Nations and contributes industry expertise to help the global health community improve the lives of people everywhere. The industry’s two million employees discover, develop, and deliver medicines and vaccines that advance global health.

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