A few years ago, flu vaccine awareness reached an all-time high thanks to widespread media coverage of the H1N1 (swine) flu pandemic. Unfortunately, that raised awareness did not translate into a corresponding jump in flu vaccine compliance. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 70 percent of adults did not get vaccinated against the seasonal flu, and only one in five were vaccinated against H1N1. Now that the pandemic is no more than a distance memory, flu vaccine compliance has continued to plummet, with many thinking the flu is nothing to worry about.
These statistics are disturbing since contrary to popular belief, the flu is a serious illness that can lead to pneumonia and other complications. At least 45,000 Americans die each year from influenza and pneumonia, making it the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. That’s nothing to sneeze at!
Many companies within the healthcare industry are now making it a priority to help educate the general public about the importance of flu vaccines. These days, entire marketing campaigns that include brochures explaining flu myths and facts; posters that can be displayed in pharmacies and physician’s offices; and helpful brochures on flu facts are common. These types of marketing materials can help persuade people that the decision to forgo a flu shot can be a harmful decision.
Here are some additional “flu facts”:
• The flu can be costly. Taking time off from work due to illness can impact your job performance and your paycheck. Plus, spreading the flu to your spouse, children or friends creates a chain reaction of illness that could all be avoided with a simple flu vaccine.
• Avoiding a flu vaccine can be dangerous. The CDC has long recommended that people 50 years of age and over should get vaccinated, and so should those who interact with them. If you don’t get immunized to protect yourself, consider parents, grandparents and others who might get sick by being around you.
• Flu vaccines are effective. A flu vaccine prevents the flu in approximately 70 to 90 percent of healthy people under the age of 65. The effectiveness of the vaccine is subject to variables such as age and health status, as well as the match between virus strains in the vaccine and virus strains in circulation.
For the 2012-13 season, the flu vaccine immunizes against three virus strains including the H1N1 pandemic strain, providing even greater incentives to get vaccinated. There is also a high-dose vaccine formulated specifically for those aged 65 and over. Seniors are in a high risk group when it comes to flu complications, so having a flu vaccine exclusively for them is welcome news.
Each year the flu kills more people than all vaccine-preventable diseases combined – it’s not just the flu! The easiest and most effective way to begin turning that statistic around is for everyone to get an annual flu vaccine.
Influenza is a contagious respiratory disease caused by flu viruses, and it can cause mild to severe illness or even complications resulting in death. The best way to prevent the flu is to get a flu vaccine every year so you can protect yourself and those you love.