The Covid-19 pandemic taught us the importance of protecting the most vulnerable people in our societies, particularly older adults and patients with underlying medical conditions. The shortage of Intensive care units (ICU) capacities, particularly during the first waves, highlighted the importance of keeping the flu flat to protect our healthcare systems.
Meanwhile, influenza is still with us, causing disease among society’s most vulnerable and burdening healthcare systems. Worldwide there are between 3 to 5 million cases of severe flu every year and between 290,000 to 650,000 respiratory deaths linked to the flu. Severe influenza illness is more common in adults with chronic medical conditions. Older and immunocompromised people are also more vulnerable. The risk of flu-related complications and hospitalisation in adults aged 65 years and older is particularly high.
Unless we act, we will continue to put the vulnerable and our healthcare systems at risk with every passing flu season.
Improving vaccination coverage
The World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended that 75% of older people be vaccinated against the flu.
But we are far from reaching that goal. For instance, in the G7 countries , vaccination coverage for those over 65 years of age ranges from 35% to 72%. While the EU average coverage rate is 43% among older people, coverage varies considerably between countries – from 1% to above 75% . Vaccination coverage among people with chronic diseases and health-care workers is lower than 40% in most countries. Across the United States, more than half (52%) of persons six months and older were vaccinated during the 2019–20 season, reaching 69% among older people .
Meanwhile, health organisations around the world continue to push messages about the positive role of flu vaccinations to improve influenza vaccination rates and, in doing so, reduce the burden of influenza disease nationally, regionally, and globally:
- The single best way to prevent seasonal flu is to get vaccinated each year.
- The benefits of vaccination substantially outweigh the risks.
- Flu vaccines are safe and effective and have been available for more than 70 years.
- Adverse events following influenza vaccination are generally localized and mild – and far less common than complications related to influenza itself.
Join our network
To improve vaccination coverage, the IFPMA, IFA, and FIP have joined forces to develop a common basis for a network communication strategy around influenza vaccinations.
And this is where you come in. We’re taking a network approach and calling on health stakeholders, patients, advocacy organisations, opinion leaders, and decision-makers to partner with us. Working together, we can boost awareness in Europe and North America of the importance of flu vaccination and herd immunity – especially for healthcare workers, older adults, and patients living with chronic conditions.
#TogetherAgainstFlu Editorial Board
We need your support for our global campaign to #TogetherAgainstFlu, especially as we may see a comeback of the flu this winter. This is why, we are striving to encourage people to be aware, not complacent about the flu. So, we ask if you can help us in spreading the message to #TogetherAgainstFlu within your social media channels (such as Twitter). We would also welcome an opportunity to interview you and hear your medical opinion on the flu topic. This would create further publicity for the campaign and strengthen our message even further. Or, if you are unable to, perhaps you could suggest someone within your network? Any support you can provide would help us to bring more attention to this vital campaign.
Working together, we can develop strong and consistent targeted, evidence-based messages to support you in your advocacy for implementing existing recommendations for the prevention and control of seasonal influenza.
We’re looking to expand our influenza network and on the lookout for other groups/organisations to partner with us in sharing the campaign messages across their audiences.
We are #TogetherAgainstFlu. So, join our network. Let’s safeguard society from this avoidable disease.