October 6, 2019

Pat Whitley-Williams, MD

Estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that influenza (flu) vaccination coverage among adults was only 45 percent for the 2018-2019 flu season⁠—well below US public health goals. To better understand why, NFID commissioned a national survey of US adults to learn more about beliefs, attitudes, and practices around flu and pneumococcal vaccination. The survey results revealed that although 52 percent of adults do plan to get vaccinated against flu this season, nearly a quarter of those at highest risk of flu-related complications (individuals age 65 years and older and those with an underlying chronic health condition like asthma, diabetes, and heart disease) do not plan to get vaccinated against flu this season. Nearly 60 percent of these individuals, who are also at increased risk for pneumococcal disease, report that they have never been advised by a healthcare professional to get vaccinated against pneumococcal disease.

To help address this important public health issue, US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex M. Azar II led by example at the 2019 NFID Annual Influenza/Pneumococcal Disease News Conference in Washington, DC on September 26 to urge everyone age 6 months and older to get vaccinated against flu each year.

“Many people underestimate the severity of flu, yet we know flu causes hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations and tens of thousands of deaths each year in the US. When it comes to protecting people from flu, our best preventive tool is an annual flu vaccine.” – US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex M. Azar II

Secretary Azar was joined at the press conference by NFID President-Elect Patricia N. Whitley-Williams, MD, of Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, preventive cardiologist William B. Borden, MD, of George Washington University and GW Medical Faculty Associates, and NFID Medical Director William Schaffner, MD. Leading by example, the panelists each got vaccinated against flu, along with representatives from NFID partner organizations including CDC Influenza Division Director Daniel B. Jernigan, MD, MPH, and Mark May, NFID #FightFlu ambassador and 1980 Outland Trophy winner. The NFID leading by example initiative calls on community leaders and organizations to “lead by example” by making a commitment to annual flu prevention.

Panelists also highlighted the CDC “Take 3” approach to flu prevention and noted that flu season is a good time to make sure you are up to date on pneumococcal vaccines, since the vaccines can be administered at the same time.

Help #FightFlu and #PreventPneumo with these complimentary NFID resources: 

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