How to better prepare your health system’s flu season supply needs

As the 2020-21 flu season quickly approaches, concerns about concurrent circulation of influenza and SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), has led to increased focus on flu season supply needs.

This includes the emphasis on maximizing influenza vaccination coverage to reduce the burden of influenza-related respiratory illnesses on the public’s health and the healthcare system.1 With this in mind, here are two ways to better prepare your facility for flu vaccination and treatment supply needs.

  1. Develop your list of critical supplies. An important first step in preparing for flu season is understanding the critical supplies that will be needed. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines include essential flu campaign supplies, such as hand hygiene products, syringes, needles, bandages, etc. With the COVID-19 pandemic straining supply chains, the earlier you notify medical product distributors and manufacturers of the necessary demand for your organization’s needs, the more time the world’s increasingly global supply chain will have to prepare.2 When it comes to choosing the right needles and syringes, your facility should be diligent to follow the Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act. This act mandates use of products with engineering controls to protect against sharps injuries and safeguard front line healthcare workers.3 The right needles and syringes can help remove the risk of contracting flu, COVID-19, and blood-borne pathogens.

  2. Stay up to date with weekly flu forecasts and adjust inventory requirements accordingly. The CDC’s Seasonal Influenza Vaccine Supply webpage encourages manufacturers and distributors to use a distribution strategy in which providers receive smaller shipments to allow as many providers as possible to begin vaccination activities early in the vaccination season. They recommend short intervals between these shipments so that each provider has a continuous supply and can continue vaccinating patients without interruption.2 Cardinal Health is also providing regular updates and information on our Respiratory Season 2020-21 webpage, including an article around understanding CDC resources.  

You can't predict exactly how each flu season will unfold, especially as it intersects with the COVID-19 pandemic, but you can take steps to better prepare for your flu-related inventory demands. Staying informed with all available data can increase the accuracy of your demand planning and ease the tension on your supply chain. Put a plan into place that effectively allows you to track and evaluate your hospital's flu response, so you’re better equipped to handle flu season no matter what challenges you face.

For more insights and information on clinical flu vaccine preparedness, including a new white paper, visit Additionally, for more supply chain insights, visit the Cardinal Health Supply Chain Center


1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Disease Burden of Influenza. Published 2021. Accessed July 7, 2021. 2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Influenza Vaccination Information for Health Care Workers. Published 2021. Accessed July 7, 2021. 3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Guidance for Planning Vaccination Clinics Held at Satellite, Temporary, or Off-Site Locations. Published 2020. Accessed July 15, 2021.

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