This post was authored by Phil Hosbach, Vice President, New Products and Immunization Policy, Sanofi Pasteur U.S.
An annual influenza vaccination is the best way to prevent the flu as well as flu-related complications that could lead to severe illness, hospitalization and even death. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone 6 months and older get an influenza flu vaccine (with rare exceptions). Influenza vaccination can reduce flu illnesses, doctors’ visits, missed work due to flu, as well as prevent flu-related hospitalizations and deaths. And, CDC estimates that influenza costs the US $6.2 billion in lost productivity each year.
To help raise awareness about the importance of flu vaccination and the convenient availability of flu vaccine, the CDC kicked off National Influenza Vaccination Week December 7 – 13.
As a leader in influenza vaccine manufacturing, Sanofi Pasteur supports the CDC in raising the level of awareness about the importance of getting vaccinated against influenza disease. And with the holidays approaching, a lot of people mistakenly assume that if they haven’t been vaccinated against influenza then it’s too late. However, as we know, influenza season doesn’t peak until January or February, and so that misconception can be costly to both the health of patients and health of our economy.
The CDC recently reported that increasing the risk of a potentially severe flu season is the finding from an analysis of roughly half of the H3N2 viruses spreading across the country. The finding shows the viruses to be drift variants: viruses with antigenic or genetic changes that make them different from that season’s vaccine virus. This means the vaccine’s ability to protect against those viruses may be reduced, although vaccinated people may have a milder illness if they do become infected. Other circulating influenza viruses are good matches to those in the flu vaccine, and CDC officials strongly recommend a flu vaccination for everyone 6 months and older as partial protection is better than nothing.
Influenza is among the most common respiratory illnesses in the United States, infecting millions of people every flu season, according to the CDC. Every year, flu spreads across the country, from person to person, among families and communities. Year-end holidays don’t make it any easier, as people are more apt to be traveling, shopping, and gathering with others in close quarters. All of this can lead to more exposure and increased chances of contracting the flu.
Click here to learn more about the importance of influenza vaccination and take a “flu pledge.”