Do You Know the Dangers of Flu among Individuals with Chronic Health Conditions?
Influenza (flu) is a contagious and potentially deadly virus that can result in serious complications for individuals living with chronic health conditions such as heart or lung disease and diabetes, even when chronic conditions are well-controlled. It is estimated that 31% of US adults age 50-64 years and 47% of those age 65 years and older have at least one chronic health condition that puts them at high risk for flu-related complications, including hospitalization, catastrophic disability, and even death. In fact, 90% of flu- related deaths and the majority of flu-related hospitalizations occur in older adults—the individuals most likely to be living with chronic health conditions.
There is an urgent need to raise awareness of the burden of flu in adults with chronic health conditions. Healthcare professionals (HCPs) play a key role in communicating the known benefits of annual flu vaccination in mitigating the risks of flu and reducing severe flu-related outcomes in patients with chronic health conditions. Additionally, HCPs should recognize and address barriers to vaccination, including lack of consumer confidence in vaccine efficacy and misperceptions about the impact of flu, and should insist upon annual flu vaccination—particularly for patients with known chronic health conditions and for those who may have an undiagnosed chronic health condition or are likely to spread flu to others. To learn more about the connection between flu and chronic health conditions and to download free tools to help improve flu vaccination rates, visit www.nfid.org/flu-chronic-health-conditions .