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American College of Physicians Urges All Adults to Get Recommended Influenza Vaccination

National Influenza Vaccination Week reminds us that getting a flu shot is more important than ever

PHILADELPHIA, Dec. 3, 2020 – The American College of Physicians (ACP) is urging all adults to mark National Influenza Vaccination Week (Dec. 6-12) by making sure they get vaccinated as flu season and winter weather are here.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) established the National Influenza Vaccination Week in 2005 and it is a reminder that the flu season isn’t just around the holidays but throughout the winter into February – or even later.

With a threat of flu season colliding with rising cases of COVID-19, ACP is urging that all adults get the flu vaccine. Health experts this year fear that COVID-19 cases and flu season could create havoc for patients, healthcare systems and add strain to already stressed frontline workers. It is important that every patient gets a flu vaccine to prevent the twindemic of COVID-19 and flu. Flu vaccines not only help to protect against flu infection, but they also help reduce the severity of flu infection. Patients with chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease or diabetes are at high risk for severe flu and COVID infection. The flu can exacerbate a patient’s underlying chronic conditions, resulting in increased hospitalizations and even death.  

“National Influenza Vaccination Week is a critical reminder to make sure everyone gets the flu vaccine – especially this year,” said Jacqueline W. Fincher, MD, MACP, ACP President. “Getting the flu vaccine helps to ease the burden on our healthcare systems which right now are being stressed in light of COVID-19. Vaccines are safe and effective and it is especially important for people at high risk of flu-related complications including all adults over 65, adults with chronic conditions, and women who are pregnant.”

According to the CDC, a 2017 survey of adults showed that flu vaccination coverage for those 19 and older was only about 45 percent, 60% for adults with high risk conditions, and 68 percent for adults 65 and older. Racial and ethnic disparities exist in flu vaccination coverage, with lower average rates of flu vaccination among Black adults (38.5 percent) and Hispanic adults (37 percent) when compared to white adults (48 percent).

And it’s not only flu vaccination rates that need to be increased. In the same 2017 CDC survey, pneumococcal immunizations among high-risk adults 19 and older was about 24.5 percent and 69 percent among adults 65 and older; and Td or Tdap immunizations for adults 19 and older over a ten-year period was about 63 percent. All adults should receive vaccines, as recommended according to the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) guidelines for dosing and schedules.

“We need to remind patients that all recommended vaccinations are safe, effective and an important part of any patient’s health care plan,” says Dr. Fincher. “But at this time the flu vaccine should be a top priority.”

And while many physicians’ offices are limiting in-person visits, physicians and their patients are urged to utilize telehealth to discuss their health care, including discussions of needed vaccinations. And patients are encouraged to come to their physician’s office or visit community-based vaccine providers (e.g., pharmacies) for flu vaccination and other necessary vaccines. ACP has published resources to help promote immunizations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The latest adult immunization schedule and recommendations approved by the ACIP are available 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 163,000 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

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