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Flu vaccine frequently asked questions

Do you have questions about the flu vaccine or about working with McKesson Medical-Surgical to purchase your flu vaccine? Read through some of our most frequently asked questions to find the answers you need. We are committed to providing you with the knowledge you need to make the best decisions for the people you serve.

Ordering flu with McKesson

Why is pre-booking flu vaccines important?

Manufacturers plan vaccine production based on historical information and current season pre-books. Pre-booking is necessary to make sure you get your product. Historical data shows that manufacturers typically waitlist certain vaccines in March. Once a product is waitlisted, there is no guarantee of a delivery date or even that more vaccines will be available. Product may be limited in supply to providers who did not take advantage of the pre-book period.

When should I order my flu vaccine?

Because of the lengthy flu vaccine manufacturing and distribution periods, as well as limited quantities, it’s best to pre-book and order your vaccine as early as possible. Typically, you would want to order your vaccine in the spring, shortly after the season’s vaccines and strains are announced by the FDA and CDC.

How much flu vaccine should I order?

Assess your last year’s vaccine usage and make adjustments as necessary. Take into consideration any expected flu surges in your area, as well as your patient population. Certain persons are at a higher risk of medical complications attributable to severe flu, so you should assess your patient population for these persons and include these numbers in your vaccine ordering. Persons at risk include:1

  • All children 6 months and older

  • All persons aged 50 years and older

  • Adults and children who have chronic pulmonary (including asthma) or cardiovascular (except isolated hypertension), renal, hepatic, neurologic, hematologic, or metabolic disorders (including diabetes mellitus)

  • Persons who have immunosuppression (including immunosuppression caused by medications or by HIV infection)

  • Women who are or will be pregnant during the influenza season

  • Children and adolescents (aged 6 months through 18 years) who are receiving long-term aspirin therapy and who might be at risk for experiencing Reye’s syndrome after influenza virus infection

  • Residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities

  • American Indians/Alaska Natives

  • Persons who are obese, with a body mass index of 40 or greater

What does "waitlist" mean?

When a flu booking is waitlisted, this means that the manufacturer has reached capacity and we may not receive additional quantity for that vaccine to fill newer pre-books. We will make every effort to fill your order, but cannot guarantee availability. Many times, we are able to fill Waitlisted orders if other customers cancel their booking for that product. Our portfolio offers you the ability to access multiple products as a safety net.

Will pricing be available when I pre-book?

You may pre-book for the next season at any time. Pricing is typically set in January for the coming season. You have until July to change or cancel your pre-books with no penalty when you pre-book with McKesson Medical-Surgical.

When will I get my flu vaccine?

McKesson Medical-Surgical will contact you by phone or email when your flu vaccine is available for shipment. We ship flu vaccine based on manufacturer availability and the order in which pre-books were received. Please make sure to update your contact information by contacting to ensure we are able to reach you.

Are pre-filled syringes sold with needles?

Fluzone® Intradermal QIV is the only pre-filled syringe that includes a needle.

Does McKesson Medical-Surgical carry any preservative-free flu vaccine?

Yes. We carry several flu vaccines that do not contain thimerosal. Our flu vaccine offering varies season-to-season, so check out our product catalog for the latest.

Does McKesson Medical-Surgical offer an egg-free flu vaccine?

Our flu vaccine offering varies season-to-season, so check out our product catalog for the latest.

Does McKesson Medical-Surgical carry live flu vaccine?

Our flu vaccine offering varies season-to-season, so check out our product catalog for the latest.

How can McKesson Medical-Surgical help my practice, clinic or facility meet the needs of priority patients or residents in case of manufacturer delays?

Our influenza portfolio encompasses all influenza vaccines. If there is a manufacturer delay, our portfolio offers you the ability to access multiple products as a safety net. We implement a distribution strategy developed with the goal of enabling as many providers as possible to begin vaccination activities early in the season. Our Flu Connection Team is fully committed to respond to your needs.

Have additional questions about flu not covered here? Contact our Flu Coordinators to learn more.

General FAQ about flu vaccines

Are all flu vaccines the same?

Different flu vaccine preparations have different indications as approved by the FDA.3 Click here to see the CDC’s breakdown of the different types of flu vaccines available.

What's the difference between trivalent (TIV) and quadrivalent (QIV)?

  • Trivalent (TIV) flu vaccine contains a total of three strains – two A strains and one B strain

  • Quadrivalent (QIV) flu vaccine contains a total of four strains – two A strains and two B strains

What's the difference between quadrivalent and high-dose vaccines?

According to the CDC, quadrivalent refers to the number of strains of influenza virus contained in the vaccine – four strains – two “A” and two “B”. High dose is a type of vaccine that provides a more robust immune response in patients 65 years and older.4

What vaccines are indicated specifically for people 65 years and older?

According to the CDC, people 65 years and older can get any injectable vaccine (flu shot) that is approved for use in that age group.4

When should I learn about the different flu vaccines offered and the strains they protect against?

Look for the season’s strains in late February/early March. The World Health Organization (WHO) consults with various experts and partners each year in February, before making recommendations for the composition of the seasonal influenza vaccine. Shortly thereafter, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) likely endorses this recommendation and announces which strains the season’s vaccine will protect against.4