Health  Vol.4 No.10 A , October 2012
Influenza prevention can help meet wider public health objectives
Abstract: Influenza burden: Influenza imposes a major burden on people and public health systems, causing millions of severe cases and up to one million deaths annually. Much of this burden is borne by those aged 65 or over, children under 2 years of age and people with non-communicable chronic diseases, such as heart and lung conditions and diabetes. In the elderly, influenza can have longer-term effects beyond acute infection, with some facing increased disability and care requirements. Prevention: Taking into account the growing elderly population worldwide and their susceptibility to non-communicable conditions as well as rising healthcare costs, public health policies are increasingly focusing on disease prevention strategies and promotion of healthy ageing initiatives. Influenza vaccination has an important role to play in these approaches. Immunization of high-risk groups is recommended by public health organizations, both internationally and locally within many countries. However, although vaccines are considered the most effective method for preventing influenza, many high-risk people remain unvaccinated. Improving vaccination rates: In recent years, research has focused on increasing vaccine coverage. The results demonstrate the key role healthcare professionals play in encouraging immunization, alongside factors such as communication, education and financial support for vaccination. Paradoxically, although vaccination recommendations often include healthcare professionals and studies demonstrate the potential protection offered to workers and patients, many remain unvaccinated. As a result, a growing number of organizations, particularly in North America, are implementing policies requiring vaccination of healthcare pro fessionals as a patient safety measure. In summary: Influenza vaccination has a key role to play in helping to protect the health of the growing elderly population, reduce the burden associated with non-communicable diseases and decrease the annual toll on public health. Improving vaccination levels relies on the support of healthcare professionals, and increasingly healthcare professional immunization is considered an integral part of patient care.
Cite this paper: Palache, A. (2012) Influenza prevention can help meet wider public health objectives. Health, 4, 963-967. doi: 10.4236/health.2012.430147.

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