During periods of human influenza activity, contacts of known or potential sources of avian influenza virus who have not received the most recent annual influenza vaccine should be offered this vaccine immediately. Receipt of the vaccine should be mandatory for any workers involved in the control of the avian outbreak and ideally should be administered two weeks prior to the potential exposure.
The current human influenza vaccines do not protect the individual against avian influenza; however, the vaccine can potentially reduce the possibility of dual infection with avian and human influenza viruses. There is a theoretical risk that dual infection could occur and result in reassortment. The resultant hybrid virus could be more easily transmitted from person to person and therefore have pandemic potential.
While vaccines against the Asian sub-type of H5N1 avian influenza are under development, recommendations regarding the potential use of this type of vaccine in an avian outbreak situation will not be developed until a product has been approved for use in Canada.