Staying up to date on vaccinations can protect against influenza and other common illnesses
PHILADELPHIA, August 9, 2022 – August is National Immunization Awareness Month and the American College of Physicians (ACP) is urging adults to get all of their recommended immunizations for protection against preventable diseases such as influenza, pneumonia, and COVID-19.
With the influenza season fast approaching, internal medicine physicians recommend their patients get immunized. Last year, influenza cases were relatively low due largely to precautions to avoid COVID infection such as mask wearing and social distancing. That low incidence of influenza last year may lead people to think that they are low risk for infection this year. However, each season is different and patients are urged to get vaccinated to protect them from influenza infection, missing work, hospitalization, or death. Adults who are 65 or older are at even higher risk for severe influenza-related complications and are now recommended to get a high-dose or adjuvanted vaccine, which can offer greater protection. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), influenza vaccination is 9.5 percentage points lower this season as of March 2022 compared with last season at the end of March 2021 (51.8% compared to 61.3%) and 13.7 percentage points lower this season compared with March 2020.
“The low incidence of influenza these past two years does not mean that people are not at risk this upcoming flu season,” said Ryan D. Mire, MD, FACP, President, ACP. “Patients should get vaccinated against influenza to help them stay healthy, avoid missing work or school, and stay out of the hospital.”
According to the CDC, as fall approaches, those increased COVID cases have again caused worry for a COVID/influenza crisis that could result in increased illness, hospitalizations, affect access to physicians, and could again stress the nation’s healthcare systems.
Physicians and their patients are still encouraged to continue to utilize telehealth as deemed appropriate to discuss their health care (including discussions of needed vaccinations) and are also encouraged to visit their physician’s office or community-based vaccine providers (e.g., pharmacies) to receive influenza and other necessary vaccines.
COVID-19 and influenza vaccinations are not the only important immunizations to help patients stay healthy. Other important adult immunizations include Tdap to protect against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough); pneumococcal to protect against pneumococcal pneumonia, bacteremia, and meningitis; HPV to prevent cervical, anal, and other cancers; hepatitis A and B; and herpes zoster to help prevent shingles. Each vaccine should be administered according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) guidelines for dosing and schedules. Patients should consult with their physician to determine which vaccines are recommended to them based on their age and risk conditions.
The latest adult immunization schedule and recommendations approved by the ACIP are published annually in Annals of Internal Medicine. ACP and other professional organizations reviewed and approved the schedule. ACP’s I Raise the Rates Adult Immunization Resource Hub has links to useful resources and important information to help physicians increase adult immunizations in their practice.
About the American College of Physicians
The American College of Physicians is the largest medical specialty organization in the United States with members in more than 145 countries worldwide. ACP membership includes 160,000 internal medicine physicians (internists), related subspecialists, and medical students. Internal medicine physicians are specialists who apply scientific knowledge and clinical expertise to the diagnosis, treatment, and compassionate care of adults across the spectrum from health to complex illness. Follow ACP on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
Contact: Andrew Hachadorian, (215) 351-2514, AHachadorian@acponline.org