In our quest for a better way in healthcare, Abarca goes all in to spread the word on the importance of the flu vaccination to patients, parents, and caregivers. While getting a flu vaccine will not protect against COVID-19, there are many significant benefits, such as: reducing the risk of flu illness, hospitalization, death, and saving healthcare resources for patients with COVID-19.
As we face a new healthcare environment caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a high probability that flu viruses and the virus that causes COVID-19 will both spread this fall and winter. Healthcare systems could likely become overwhelmed treating patients with both of these viruses, making getting a flu vaccine this flu season more critical than ever.
Here are the Main Facts according to the CDC:
- The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months and older receive the annual flu vaccination, with a few exceptions.
- Flu vaccination can keep you from getting sick with the flu. During seasons when the flu vaccine viruses are similar to circulating flu viruses, the flu vaccine has been shown to reduce the risk of going to the doctor for the flu by 40 to 60 percent.
- Flu vaccination can reduce the risk of flu-associated hospitalization for children, working-age adults, and older adults. Recent studies show that the flu vaccine prevents tens of thousands of hospitalizations each year. For example, during the 2018-2019 season, flu vaccination prevented an estimated 58,000 flu-related hospitalizations.
In recent years, flu vaccines have reduced the risk of flu-associated hospitalizations among older adults on average by about 40%. A 2020 study for the same 2018-2019 season found that flu vaccination reduced flu-associated hospitalization by 41% and flu-associated emergency department visits by half among children (aged six months to 17 years old).
- Flu vaccination is an important preventive tool for people with chronic health conditions. Flu vaccination has been associated with lower rates of some cardiac events among people with heart disease, especially among those who had had a cardiac event in the past year. Also, flu vaccination can reduce worsening and hospitalization for flu-related chronic lung disease, such as in persons with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Additionally, separate studies have shown an association between flu vaccination and reduced hospitalizations among diabetes and chronic lung disease.
- Flu vaccination helps protect women during and after pregnancy. Vaccination reduces the risk of flu-associated acute respiratory infection in pregnant women by about one-half. A 2018 study of the 2010-2016 influenza seasons showed getting a flu shot reduced a pregnant woman’s risk of being hospitalized with flu by an average of 40 percent. Other studies have shown that in addition to helping protect pregnant women, a flu vaccine given during pregnancy helps protect the baby from flu for several months after birth when they are not old enough to be vaccinated.
- Flu vaccination can be lifesaving in children. A 2017 study was the first of its kind to show that flu vaccination can significantly reduce a child’s risk of dying from flu.
- Flu vaccination has been shown in several studies to reduce the severity of illness in people who get vaccinated but still get sick. A 2018 study showed that among adults hospitalized with flu, vaccinated patients were 59 percent less likely to be admitted to the ICU than those who had not been vaccinated. Among adults in the ICU with flu, vaccinated patients, on average, spent four fewer days in the hospital than those who were not vaccinated.
According to the CDC, a few things are different for the 2021-2022 influenza (flu) season, including:
- The composition of flu vaccines has been updated.
- All flu vaccines will be quadrivalent (four-component), designed to protect against four different flu viruses. For more information: Quadrivalent Influenza Vaccine | CDC.
- Flucelvax Quadrivalent is now approved to include people 2 years and older.
- Flu vaccines and COVID-19 vaccines can be given at the same time.
- More detailed guidance on the recommended timing of flu vaccination for some groups of people is available.
- Guidance concerning contraindications and precautions was updated for the use of two flu vaccines – Flucevax Quadrivalent and Flublok Quadrivalent.
- Changes to CDC’s flu surveillance systems.
As we approach influenza season (the peak of which occurs in December through February), the influenza vaccination will be essential in reducing the impact of respiratory illnesses in the population and decreasing further burdens on the healthcare system.
Learn more about seasonal influenza, including how to prevent it, the benefits of getting vaccinated, and how the influenza vaccine works as outlined by the CDC. In addition, we recommend that you talk to your healthcare professional about which vaccine is right for you and your loved ones.
This blog post was written by Karen Vogel, PharmD, RPh, Clinical Pharmacist at Abarca Health.
Sources: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent/vaccine-benefits.htm, https://www.cdc.gov/flu/season/faq-flu-season-2021-2022.htm; Other references for the studies listed above can be found at Publications on Influenza Vaccine Benefits. Also, see the A Strong Defense Against Flu: Get Vaccinated fact sheet.