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No Need to Hold Back Flu Vaccine, CDC Says

Donna Young

In contrast to previous years, federal authorities are urging health care providers to vaccinate all persons-high-risk and healthy alike-against influenza as soon as vaccine supplies arrive. And, in an exception to the rule for electronic submission of Medicare claims, the government will allow paper claims for roster billing of influenza vaccinations during the 2003-04 season.

CDC's National Immunization Program on Sept. 11 issued the bulletin below.

Influenza Vaccine Distribution and Administration

Timing of Influenza Vaccination During the 2003-04 Season

At its June meeting, the ACIP asked CDC, in collaboration with the FDA and the influenza vaccine manufacturers, to determine if vaccine supplies for the coming year would be adequate and timely. The CDC affirmed on August 11, 2003, that vaccine production for the 2003-04 influenza season is proceeding satisfactorily, and that projected production and distribution schedules will allow for sufficient supply of influenza vaccine during October and November. Therefore, influenza vaccination can proceed for all high-risk and healthy persons, individually and through mass campaigns, as soon as vaccine is available.

Review the Notice to Readers published in the August 22, 2003 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) for complete information and references at

CMS Allows Exception to Electronic Reporting Requirement for Providers Submitting Roster Bills

On August 15, 2003, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) published the Final Rule for Electronic Submission of Medicare Claims. The Administrative Simplification Compliance Act (ASCA) requires nearly all claims sent to the Medicare Program be submitted electronically beginning October 16, 2003. However, providers wishing to submit paper roster bills for vaccinations are exempt from this requirement. Review the rule and the few exceptions to these requirements at

How to Bill Medicare for Influenza and Pneumococcal Vaccines

Print step-by-step instructions on billing Medicare for influenza and pneumococcal vaccinations by visiting

Redistribution of Influenza Vaccine

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), providers may reallocate inactivated influenza vaccine to other local providers where vaccine distribution is uneven.

The parameters for redistribution in keeping within the accepted principles of vaccine storage and handling are available on CDC's web site at

Projections of Monthly Influenza Vaccine Distribution, United States, 2003*

MonthTotalsDoses (millions)+Percent+

*Information provided by vaccine manufacturers
+cumulative totals

Influenza Vaccine Communications and Resources

Vaccine Communications Research

During August 20-27, 2002, the National Immunization Program at the CDC collected qualitative data to assess beliefs, behaviors, and barriers that cause low influenza and pneumococcal immunization rates among older African-American and Hispanic populations. Review a brief summary of the formative research or download the final report at

Pandemic Influenza Preparedness

In the June 15, 2003 issue of Clinical Infectious Diseases, David S. Fedson addresses preparedness for pandemic influenza as it relates independently to the global vaccine supply and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

Additional Resources

Flu Campaign Materials NEW!

  • Campaign materials for the 2003-04 Influenza season are available. Visit the Flu Gallery on the CDC/NIP web site to download and print influenza-related health education materials at

Miscellaneous Information

Pneumococcal Vaccine Payment Increase Effective October 1, 2003
Effective October 1, 2003, the Medicare Part B payment for the pneumococcal vaccine will be increased to either the charge billed to Medicare or the amount of $18.62, whichever is lower. Annual Part B deductible and coinsurance amounts do not apply. All physicians, non-physician practitioners, and suppliers who administer pneumococcal vaccination must take assignment on the claim for the vaccine.

For additional information about Medicare and immunizations, refer to the Immunizations Quick Reference Guide at