Health officials are quietly relaxing their guidelines to reduce the wait for flu vaccines from the National Institutes of Health.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has announced that it is allowing some people to receive vaccinations and follow up appointments within one week of symptoms onset and call it a good day until their primary care doctors ask about the vaccine again.
Under the previous guidelines, “all practicing clinicians and hospital staff in the U.S. were required to schedule influenza vaccination appointments for each patient by 12:01 a.m. the day before each delivery date,” the CDC said in an August statement. “In its press release, the CDC suggested that by August 1, no patient could be vaccinated until after their office or hospital had been open for 12 hours.”
The CDC previously updated its guidelines in 2016, but they still expressed a desire to decrease the lag between getting the vaccine and getting a doctor’s appointment.
“It appears, however, that the current standard of care may be appropriate for some patients who might be delayed in starting or completing the adjuvant-containing vaccine,” the CDC said in a press release.
The CDC’s announcement comes amid rising numbers of illnesses in the last few weeks with the flu, one of which put 70 million people at “high risk” of serious illness and death. According to the CDC, there were a total of 636 laboratory-confirmed cases for the week ending Feb. 2, up from 495 the week before and 268 the week before that.
The CDC says over 4,700 people died from the flu during the 2018-2019 flu season that ran from October through February and peaks each winter. In comparison, the CDC said there were 8,505 total flu-related deaths in the 2017-2018 flu season and 9,218 total deaths in the 2016-2017 season.