Flu (Influenza) can cause permanent disability, hospitalization, and even death in individuals already suffering from chronic health problems. To reduce such outcomes NFID plans to increase awareness about flu-associated complications in adults with chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, lung disease, and heart disease.
Getting a flu shot annually can help in avoiding flu-associated complications in this high-risk group. But still, according to NFID’s recent report, including 1,002 U.S. adults, 25 percent of these high-risk individuals don’t plan to get flu jabs this year.
To support and celebrate National Influenza Vaccination Week (Dec 1 – Dec 7, 2019), NFID (National Foundation for Infectious Diseases) has initiated a campaign, #LowerYourFluRisk.
This new campaign provides infographics and public service messages to increase awareness and knowledge about flu-related complications in adults with chronic illnesses. Additionally, to decrease the risk of influenza, this initiative will also promote flu vaccination in high-risk adults.
In the U.S., according to an estimation, at least one chronic health problem is present in 47% of adults aged over 65 and 31% of those aged between 50 and 64 years. These chronic conditions even if managed via medication and lifestyle changes, can increase the risk of flu-related complications in the high-risk population.
In this flu season, among the U.S. adults hospitalized for flu-associated problems, 93% reported having a chronic illness. Whereas, chronic health problems mostly observed were chronic lung disease, obesity, diabetes, and CVD.
According to the Medical Director of NFID, William Schaffner, the infectious flu is just a start in worsening the condition of the adults suffering from chronic illnesses. Most of the time, inflammation caused by flu goes undiagnosed.
In such patients, inflammation may persist for many weeks after acute infection, aggravating chronic health problems and leading to severe health outcomes such as stroke and heart attack.
Within a week after influenza infection, the risk of a heart attack becomes six times in adults with heart disease. Similarly, in patients with diabetes, flu-associated complications increase the risk of hospitalization by six times and that of death by three times.
Getting flu jabs every year can prevent such severe outcomes and decrease hospitalization rates for heart failure, stroke, and diabetes type 2 by avoiding disease exacerbation.
Results of a study have shown that among the adults who had suffered from a heart attack last year, there was a 53% reduction in the risk of cardiovascular events on getting a flu shot. It showed that in adults with chronic health problems, flu vaccination is as important as smoking cessation, taking cholesterol-lowering medicines, eating a balanced diet, or doing exercise.
In spite of the recommendation provided by healthcare providers, during this flu season, only 40% of the individuals aged 18 – 49 years, suffering from chronic illnesses, have got the flu vaccination. In a previous survey, NFID has discovered that most of the adults with chronic illnesses have no idea about flu-associated complications.
Last year, NFID focused the need to increase the rates of influenza vaccination to reduce such severe health outcomes. And on a national level, over 20 organizations have volunteered to support NFID in achieving its objective of increasing awareness regarding this matter.