This Is The Best Week For Flu Shots

Influenza infections are often the beginning of the problem for patients with chronic health conditions

2019 december calendar

For millions of individuals with heart disease, lung disease, and diabetes, getting sick with an influenza virus can lead to serious complications.

During the 2018-2019 flu season, approximately 93 percent of US adults who were hospitalized for flu-related complications had an underlying medical condition. 

Getting an annual flu shot can help prevent these complications, yet a recent survey released on December 4, 2019, by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) found that about 25 percent of at-risk individuals said ‘they were not planning to get vaccinated against influenza during the 2019-2020 flu season’.

This survey’s estimates indicate that 31 percent of US adults age 50-64 years and 47 percent of those aged 65 years and older have at least 1 chronic health condition.

This data means they are at high risk for flu-related complications.

To clarify any questions, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccine every season, with rare exceptions. Including pregnant women. 

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A previous NFID survey found that most US adults are not aware that individuals with chronic health conditions face a higher risk of flu-related complications, including heart attack or stroke. 

In support of National Influenza Vaccination Week, NFID is working to raise awareness about the dangers of flu in adults with chronic health conditions and encourage at-risk adults to get vaccinated to lower their flu risk.

The most common conditions reported were cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, and chronic lung disease.

“Unfortunately, influenza infection is often just the beginning of the problem for patients with chronic health conditions. An often unrecognized danger of flu is that the resulting inflammation may last for several weeks after acute infection,” said NFID Medical Director William Schaffner, MD, in a press release.

“The consequence of health complications from influenza is far, far greater for those with chronic diseases."

For patients living with heart disease, lung disease, and diabetes, flu can exacerbate their condition or trigger an event. For example:

  • Individuals with heart disease are six times more likely to have a heart attack within seven days of flu infection;
  • Flu can increase the rates of pneumonia in patients with asthma; and
  • In people with diabetes, the virus can interfere with the management of blood sugar levels, making them three times more likely to die of flu-related complications, and six times more likely to be hospitalized.

Dr. Schaffner continued saying, “Frankly, it is just as important as exercise, eating a balanced diet, smoking cessation, or taking medication to lower cholesterol.”

Annual flu vaccination has been shown to improve outcomes for patients with certain chronic health conditions.

One recent study found that flu vaccination reduced the risk of cardiovascular events by 53 percent among individuals who had a heart attack in the last year.

There are various influenza vaccines available for the 2019-2020 flu season. And, financial support programs for flu shots can be found at Vaccine Discounts.

And, the CDC suggests pregnant women not the nasal spray influenza vaccine for the current flu season. Influenza immunization during pregnancy was first recommended by the US Surgeon General in 1960. 

Furthermore, flu tests can be ordered online at UltaLabs. 

In 2018, NFID issued a Call to Action and stressed the need for improved flu vaccination rates. More than 20 national organizations have signed on to support the goals of increasing awareness of the dangers of flu among adults with chronic health conditions and the benefits of annual flu vaccination.

Founded in 1973, the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to educating the public and healthcare professionals about the burden, causes, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of infectious diseases across the lifespan.

Visit the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases for additional information.

As always, the CDC says 'vaccination decisions should be part of an ongoing discussion between a provider and patient.'

Influenza vaccine news published by Precision Vaccinations