Calling decision-makers to adapt flu vaccination programs and policies in light of COVID-19 pandemic
IFPMA and The Health Policy Partnership have launched a report ‘Influenza vaccination during the COVID-19 pandemic – Planning and delivering vaccination programs to protect the most vulnerable people’ about COVID-19 related challenges that could affect the 2021/22 flu season and priorities for policy-makers to protect the most vulnerable people from flu this upcoming season.
Effective vaccination programs are critical for protecting the most vulnerable people from the devastating impact of seasonal flu. For this flu season, vaccination programs and policies must be adapted to address the challenges presented by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
- Describes the unique challenges to preventing flu during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Defines priority groups for vaccination.
- Outlines 4 policy priorities for addressing those challenges so that the most vulnerable people are protected from flu during the upcoming flu season:
- Convenient access to the flu vaccine in community and healthcare settings that are COVID-19 save.
- Reimbursement for all priority groups.
- Optimal timing of flu vaccines while taking COVID-19 vaccine schedules into account.
- Tailored communication campaigns that deliver targeted messages to specific populations.
- The report calls governments for action to adapt vaccination programs and policies to challenges of the pandemic. By focusing on the above priorities, policymakers, those planning flu vaccination services and other key stakeholders, can minimize the potentially devastating result of seasonal flu on individuals and healthcare systems which are already struggling with the impact of COVID-19.
The report is accompanied by an infographic that highlights priority areas and provides guidance for policymakers and health planners to take action.
Given the continued impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the unpredictability of the flu virus, flu vaccination could be more important than ever in the 2021/22 flu season. Population’s natural immunity is lower because of last year lockdowns and preventive measures that lowered the circulation of the virus. Also, we might see complacency/fatigue towards vaccination. It will be particularly important to drive home the importance of getting the annual flu shot.Paula Barbosa, Head of Influenza Policy and Advocacy, IFPMA