DATE
December 7, 2020

Bill Schaffner Flu Vaccination

Bethesda, MD (December 7, 2020)—As public health officials prepare for new COVID-19 vaccines, there are already vaccines available in communities across the US that can help prevent another serious respiratory infection—influenza (flu). During National Influenza Vaccination Week, the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) is urging everyone age 6 months and older to get vaccinated annually against flu.

Both COVID-19 and flu are serious respiratory infections caused by contagious viruses that have impacted populations worldwide. Certain individuals including older adults, Blacks and Hispanics, and adults with chronic health conditions are at high-risk for complications from both diseases.

However, unlike COVID-19, flu vaccines that can reduce both the severity and duration of the disease have been available in the US for more than 50 years. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that flu vaccines prevented 7.5 million flu illnesses, 3.7 million flu-associated medical visits, 105,000 flu hospitalizations, and 6,300 flu deaths during the 2019-2020 flu season.

“While flu vaccines are not 100 percent effective, even in cases when flu vaccine does not prevent infection completely, it may reduce the severity of illness and prevent serious complications—keeping people out of hospitals during this critical time,” said NFID Medical Director William Schaffner, MD.

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare professionals are taking strong precautions to ensure that vaccinations are available in a safe environment. “Don’t let the ongoing pandemic discourage you from staying up to date on all recommended vaccines,” Schaffner said.

Immunization helps to protect entire communities. Individuals who are not able to get vaccinated due to underlying health conditions rely on community immunity to help protect them. If communities are not up-to-date on recommended vaccines, vulnerable populations—including older adults, those with compromised immune systems, and others—are left at greater risk of exposure to serious infectious diseases. Each person who gets vaccinated helps protect themselves, their family, friends, and their community.

Amidst COVID-19, it is more important than ever to take these steps to help prevent the spread of germs:

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water
  • Cover coughs and sneezes
  • Stay home if sick
  • Wear a mask when in public
  • Maintain six feet of distance from others
  • Get an annual flu vaccine

As long as flu viruses are circulating, vaccination should continue throughout flu season.

Learn more about flu prevention and treatment at www.nfid.org/infectious-disease/flu-influenza/.

Read about Keep Up The Rates, a national NFID campaign encouraging all individuals to receive recommended vaccines that may have been delayed during the pandemic.

About the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases

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 www.nfid.org for more information about NFID.

Contact: Diana Olson, dolson@nfid.org, 301-656-0003 x140

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