October 4, 2023

2023 News Conference Panelists

This season marks the first time vaccines are available to help protect against 3 major respiratory viruses—influenza (flu), COVID-19, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). Yet a new survey from the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID), Attitudes about Influenza, COVID-19, Respiratory Syncytial Virus, and Pneumococcal Disease, found that many US adults do not plan to get vaccinated against these diseases. At the 2023 NFID Annual News Conference: Preventing Disease this Fall and Winter, experts from NFID and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) urged everyone age 6 months and older to get vaccinated against flu and COVID-19 this season. Those most at risk for severe disease were also encouraged to discuss new RSV prevention tools (including vaccines and monoclonal antibodies) as well as pneumococcal vaccination with a healthcare professional.

NFID President Patricia (Patsy) A. Stinchfield, RN, MS, CPNP, moderated the panel discussion with experts including CDC Director Mandy K. Cohen, MD, MPH; Keith C. Ferdinand, MD, professor of medicine in cardiology at Tulane University School of Medicine; NFID Medical Director Robert (Bob) H. Hopkins, Jr., MD; and William Schaffner, MD, NFID spokesperson; with CDC Influenza Division Director Vivien G. Dugan, PhD available as an additional expert. Cohen provided final CDC disease burden data and flu vaccination rates for the 2022-2023 season.

According to CDC data released at the news conference, the 2022-2023 season in the US was moderately severe with an estimated 31 million symptomatic illnesses, 14 million medical visits, 360,000 hospitalizations, and 21,000 flu-related deaths, including 176 pediatric deaths.

Highlights of the extensive national media coverage:

People Are Urged To Get Vaccinated against 3 Major Respiratory Viruses: As winter approaches, public health authorities are worried that too few US adults are planning to get vaccinated against 3 major respiratory viruses, according to a new survey released by NFID. The survey of 1,000 US adults found only about half of those age 18-64 years want a flu vaccine, only 40% of adults are planning to get an updated COVID-19 vaccine, and only 40% of eligible adults say they will get an RSV vaccine. Source: NPR Morning Edition

2023 National Survey: Attitudes about Flu, COVID-19, RSV, and Pneumococcal DiseaseCDC Director Urges Flu, COVID-19 Vaccination amid Low Uptake: Vaccination rates for COVID-19 and flu have declined, and a significant portion of the US population indicated they are not interested in getting either this year, according to a new NFID survey. The survey found that only about 20% of US adults are worried about themselves or someone in their family getting infected with flu, COVID-19, or RSV … When asked about their reasons for not getting vaccinated, survey respondents cited concerns about side effects, distrust of vaccines, and the belief that vaccines do not work well. Source: The Hill

US Adults More Likely To Get Vaccinated for Flu vs COVID-19 This Fall:  “The NFID data—which show complacency around vaccination against flu, COVID-19, RSV, and pneumococcal disease—are concerning,” NFID President Patricia Stinchfield, RN, MD, CPNP said. “These diseases can be serious, even in healthy children and adults, but the good news is that we now have prevention tools available to help protect people against severe illness and complications. We just need to use them.” Source: Becker’s Hospital Review

What To Know As Fall Vaccinations against COVID-19, Flu, and RSV Get Underway:  For the first time, the US has vaccines to fight a trio of viruses that cause fall and winter misery. But health officials worry that shot fatigue and hassles in getting them will leave too many people needlessly unprotected. “These vaccines may not be perfect in being able to prevent absolutely every infection with these illnesses, but they turn a wild infection into a milder one,” said William Schaffner, MD, of NFID. “We need to use them,” CDC Director Mandy K. Cohen, MD, MPH, said. “Right now is the right time,” she said. Source: Associated Press

People Are Sick of Vaccination amid Flu Season, COVID-19 Boosters: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of complacency … To conquer vaccine hesitancy, Keith C. Ferdinand, MD, professor of medicine in cardiology at Tulane University School of Medicine, emphasized meeting the public where they are. “We need to go into the community, to faith-based centers, wherever people are,” Ferdinand said, noting that many people do not even have a primary care physician. “We waste lives with these preventable deaths,” Ferdinand added. “It’s also a moral issue.” Source: New York Post

Flu, COVID-19 Vaccination Rates Decline, as US Health Officials Make New Push for Inoculations: Rebuilding confidence in vaccines is critical, said NFID Medical Director Robert H. Hopkins, Jr., MD. “We’ve got tools that we can use to help protect families, help individuals to be protected. But if we don’t rebuild vaccine confidence, as we start this flu season we’re really missing an opportunity to save lives, to save productive work time, to save time for people to spend with other members of their family,” Hopkins said. Source: STAT

Health Officials Urge Pregnant Women To Get Vaccinated against Flu, COVID-19, and RSV: “We know that only about 47% of pregnant women received a flu vaccine during the 2022-2023 season,” stated NFID Medical Director Robert H. Hopkins, Jr., MD. “That wasn’t a big change from the previous season during the pandemic, but that’s down over 10% from the rates of pregnant women who were vaccinated against flu prior to the pandemic. Only 27% of women received a COVID-19 bivalent booster before or during their pregnancy last year,” Hopkins said. “It’s concerning,” he noted. Source: Motherly

65% of US adults agree flu vaccination is the best way to prevent flu-related hospitalizations and deaths ... but 43% say they do not plan or are unsure if they will get vaccinated for flu this season ...Mapped: COVID-19 Hospitalizations Drop, Deaths Increase: Nationwide COVID-19 hospitalizations dropped roughly 3% for the week ending September 23, 2023, but COVID-19 deaths rose 8%, according to CDC. And as we move into the fall and winter, a new NFID survey found adults are more likely to get vaccinated against the flu than COVID-19 this season. “As healthcare professionals, we need to address unfounded concerns and create realistic expectations about what vaccines can and cannot do,” Stinchfield said. “Even in cases when vaccination does not prevent infection entirely, getting vaccinated can help protect against serious complications, including hospitalization and death.” Source: Advisory Board

Social media highlights:

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