What’s new this flu season?
- The recommendation to not use the nasal spray flu vaccine (LAIV) was renewed for the 2017-2018 season. Only injectable flu shots are recommended for use again this season. CDC recommends use of the flu shot (inactivated influenza vaccine or IIV) or the recombinant influenza vaccine (RIV).
- Flu vaccines have been updated to better match circulating viruses (the influenza A(H1N1) component was updated).
- Pregnant women may receive any licensed, recommended, and age-appropriate flu vaccine. (NOTE: there is some concern about administration of the flu shot during the first trimester – NPR news story today 9/25/17)
- Two new quadrivalent (four-component) flu vaccines have been licensed: one inactivated influenza vaccine (“Afluria Quadrivalent” IIV) and one recombinant influenza vaccine (“Flublok Quadrivalent” RIV).
- The age recommendation for “Flulaval Quadrivalent” has been changed from 3 years old and older to 6 months and older to be consistent with FDA-approved labeling.
- The trivalent formulation of Afluria is recommended for people 5 years and older (from 9 years and older) in order to match the Food and Drug Administration package insert.
Cell-based Flu Vaccines
A candidate vaccine virus (CVV) is an influenza (flu) virus that has been prepared by CDC or its public health partners for use by vaccine manufacturers to mass produce a flu vaccine. During the 2017-2018 season, for the first time, a true cell-based CVV has been approved for use in flu vaccine production for the Northern Hemisphere. Traditionally, CVVs have been produced using fertilized chicken eggs. The cell-based CVV has been used to produce the influenza A (H3N2) component of cell-based flu vaccines for the Northern Hemisphere in 2017-2018. Recombinant flu vaccines also are based on genetic sequences of recommended vaccine viruses that have not been propagated in eggs. Cell-based flu vaccines that use cell-based CVVs or genetic sequences have the potential to offer better protection than traditional, egg-based flu vaccines as a result of being more similar to flu viruses in circulation. For more information, see CDC’s Cell-Based Flu Vaccines webpage.
Options this season include:
- Standard dose flu shots. Most are given into the muscle (usually with a needle, but one can be given to some people with a jet injector). One is given into the skin.
- High-dose shots for older people.
- Shots made with adjuvant for older people.
- Shots made with virus grown in cell culture.
- Shots made using a vaccine production technology (recombinant vaccine) that does not require the use of flu virus.
Medicare Reimbursement for the Flu Shot
The Part B deductible and coinsurance amounts do not apply to influenza vaccines or vaccine administration. All physicians, nonphysician practitioners, and suppliers who administer the influenza virus vaccination and the pneumococcal vaccination must take assignment on the claim for the vaccine.
The following Medicare Part B payment allowances for HCPCS and CPT codes apply to 8/1/2017-7/31/2018:
- 90630 $20.343
- 90653 $50.217
- 90654 Pending
- 90655 Pending
- 90656 $19.247
- 90657 Pending
- 90661 Pending
- 90662 $49.025
- 90672 Pending
- 90673 $40.613
- 90674 $24.047
- 90682 $46.313
- (New code) 90685 $21.198
- 90686 $19.032
- 90687 $9.403
- 90688 $17.835
- Q2035 $17.685
- Q2036 Pending
- Q2037 $17.685
- Q2038 Pending
- Q2039/90756 $22.793 Until CPT code 90756 is implemented on 1/1/2018, Q2039 will be used for products described by the following language: influenza virus vaccine, quadrivalent (ccllV4), derived from cell cultures, subunit, antibiotic free, 0.5mL dosage, for intramuscular use. Providers and MACs will use HCPCS Q2039 for dates of service from 8/1/2017- 12/31/2017. HCPCS Q2039 Flu Vaccine Adult – Not Otherwise Classified.
Flu Shot Administration Codes
Don’t forget to code the vaccine administration as well as the vaccine itself!
Administered by a Physician, NP, PA, RN, LPN, Medical Assistant (etc) WITHOUT COUNSELING:
- 90471 –percutaneous, intradermal, subcutaneous, or intramuscular injections: one vaccine (single or combination vaccine/toxoid)
- 90473 – intranasal or oral: one vaccine (single or combination vaccine/toxoid)
Administered by a Physician, NP, PA (etc) WITH COUNSELING:
- 90460 – Immunization administration through 18 years of age via any route of administration, w/ counseling by physician or other qualified healthcare professional; first vaccine/toxoid component
Here’s that invaluable flu shot chart from the Immunization Action Coalition with flu vaccine manufacturer, trade name, how supplied, age group, and CPT/HCPCS codes for Medicare and non-Medicare plans.