In recognition of National Influenza Vaccination Week the National Infectious Disease Foundation (NFID) has been actively promoting the importance of annual influenza vaccination. The following publication by NFID Medical Director William Schaffner, MD, was originally published at KevinMD.com.
When a patient is diagnosed with a chronic disease, such as diabetes or hypertension, doctors not only suggest medications to reduce blood sugar or blood pressure: they insist that patients take medications to protect their health. However, the recommendation to obtain an annual influenza (flu) vaccine to prevent the flu is often not as emphatic. Research has shown that patients are much more likely to receive the flu vaccine when it is offered or recommended by a healthcare professional.
National Influenza Vaccination Week (NIVW), an annual event created by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)), is an excellent time for health professionals to highlight the importance of Annual flu vaccination for all people from six months of age. Unfortunately, it seems that not everyone has received the message about flu vaccines and many vulnerable people remain unprotected. NIVW also reminds health professionals to recommend flu vaccines to their patients, especially those at high risk, including adults 65 and older.
The flu can be serious for everyone, but for adults 65 and older It does not mean just a few days at home in bed; It could mean a hospital stay, life-long complications and, in some cases, even death. In the USA older adults represent more than half of all influenza-related hospitalizations and 85% of influenza-related deaths. Despite the risks, vaccination rates among older adults have remained stagnant for the past five years.
For adults 65 years of age and older, there are two safe and effective vaccines (high doses and adjuvants) designed specifically to overcome the effects of an aging immune system. To protect our patients against flu-related complications and give them the best chance of a quick recovery, we must give them explicit instructions and instructions.
With my patients, I like to tell them: "It's winter and that means it's time for the flu shot." You will receive it upon departure. "Providing them with a strong recommendation as well as easy (and immediate) access to the vaccine helps ensure that they recognize the importance of getting an annual flu shot.Indeed, if I get kickbacks from patients, I tell them that I'm vaccinated, my family is vaccinated, everyone who works in this office is vaccinated, and we want all of our patients to be protected against the flu when they get vaccinated. & # 39;
All health professionals, including primary care physicians and specialized care, as well as caregivers, family members and friends should strongly insist on annual flu vaccination for the elderly in their lives.A strong recommendation, and sometimes even a written "prescription", it is essential to ensure that people aged 65 or older are protected from the flu each season. Vaccines are the most basic tool for preventive care, and as such, we should all be vaccinated .
During NIVW, I encourage you to see a new resource developed to help analyze the importance of an annual flu vaccination with older patients. Elderly care? Beware of the flu! toolkit, by NFID, includes resources to help you make a strong recommendation for the influenza vaccine and ensure that your elderly patients get the flu protection they deserve. The toolkit includes a downloadable sheet on the risks of flu in the elderly, an infographic to illustrate the unique risks and possible complications of influenza in this population, customizable scripts to help guide conversations with patients and a video of 30 seconds on the importance of annual flu vaccine.
These resources can help health professionals prepare important conversations with their elderly patients and recognize the importance of insisting that the flu vaccine be an annual tradition.
Together, we can help protect this important and vulnerable population!