December 06, 2019
2 min read

National Influenza Vaccination Week focuses on preventing complications

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In light of National Influenza Vaccination Week, which is taking place through Saturday, the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases is encouraging all people to receive their annual influenza vaccine, with particular emphasis on the vaccine’s ability to prevent complications in people with chronic health conditions.

“Unfortunately, influenza infection is often just the beginning of the problem for patients with chronic health conditions. An often unrecognized danger of flu is that the resulting inflammation may last for several weeks after acute infection,” William Schaffner, MD, medical director of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID), said in a press release. “This inflammation can worsen a patient’s underlying disease and may lead to complications like heart attack and stroke.”

An estimated 31% of U.S. adults aged 50 to 64 years and 47% of those aged at least 65 years have at least one chronic health condition that places them at a higher risk for influenza-related complications, according to a press release.

Further, during the 2018-2019 influenza season, approximately 93% of U.S. adults hospitalized for an influenza-related complication had an underlying condition, the most common of which were cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity and chronic lung disease. Unfortunately, influenza increases the risk for serious events in these patients. For example, influenza can increase the rates of pneumonia in patients with asthma; is associated with a sixfold increase in the risk for myocardial infarction within 7 days of influenza infection in patients with heart disease; and interfere with management of blood glucose levels in patients with diabetes.

The influenza vaccine, however, has been shown to improve outcomes for patients with certain chronic health conditions, including reductions in COPD exacerbations and hospital admission rates for stroke, heart failure and other causes of death in patients with type 2 diabetes, according to the release.

To raise awareness about the dangers of influenza in adults with conditions such as heart disease, lung disease and diabetes, the NFID has launched the #LowerYourFluRisk campaign, which includes public service announcements and infographics, according to a press release.

In conjunction with National Influenza Vaccination Week, Healio Pulmonology presents five updates on influenza as the 2019-2020 influenza season begins.

An ‘unusual’ start to flu season: Influenza B predominates early

The proportion of outpatient visits attributed to influenza-like illness climbed above the national baseline for the first time this season, comprising 2.5% of visits during the week ending Nov. 16, according to CDC FluView data. Read more


CDC updates guidance on vaping-associated lung injury in wake of flu season

As the outbreak of electronic cigarette- or vaping-associated lung injuries, or EVALI, continues, CDC has updated its interim guidance to help clinicians diagnose and treat patients with the condition in light of the approaching 2019-2020 influenza season. Read more

Routine flu vaccination for adults hospitalized with pneumonia can reduce readmissions, mortality

NEW ORLEANS — In-hospital influenza vaccination may reduce 30-day readmissions, mortality, morbidity and health care resource utilization in adults with community-acquired pneumonia. Read more

FDA approves Xofluza for patients at high risk for flu-related complications

The FDA has approved Xofluza for the treatment of patients aged 12 years or older who are at high risk for developing influenza-related complications and have been symptomatic for no more than 2 days, Genentech announced. Read more

E-cigarettes may weaken immune system’s response to flu

Research presented at the American Thoracic Society’s International Meeting suggests that although electronic cigarettes and cigarettes can leave people susceptible to viral illness, the products affect the immune system differently. Researchers noted that e-cigarette use may specifically impair patients’ adaptive antiviral immune response. Read more