In many parts of the world, public health authorities are lifting social distancing, mask wearing and other COVID-19 mitigation measures in response to subsiding or stabilizing infection rates. But as daily life slowly returns to normal – and in the absence of an effective call to action on getting an annual influenza vaccine – we must not let our guard down amidst the ever-present threat of influenza.
“It's human nature to focus on things that are front and center in the present moment,” said Gregg Sylvester, Chief Health Officer at Seqirus, a company of global biotech leader CSL. “When it comes to influenza, we have observed decreased vaccination rates due to, in part, a lack of a strong public health message from public health officials and health care providers. The lack of a strong public health message can lead to serious consequences when we’re faced with increased influenza activity, which the Southern Hemisphere is currently experiencing.”
While we don’t know how the upcoming 2022/23 Northern Hemisphere influenza season will unfold, previous activity in the Southern Hemisphere has shed some light on what may be coming our way. For example, the 2017 and 2019 Southern Hemisphere seasons demonstrated high influenza activity, followed by similar high influenza activity in the Northern Hemisphere.
We have the opportunity now, to get ahead of the curve before a potentially high Northern Hemisphere influenza season is upon us by reinforcing the message that influenza vaccination is the best protection against influenza for ourselves and our communities.
“Governments and public health agencies need to deliver a strong message about the importance of an annual influenza vaccine in keeping people safe,” Sylvester said. “Annual influenza vaccines are the best preventive measure against influenza. We all can help by delivering the right facts, in the right places, at the right times to avoid or dampen the complications associated with high influenza activity and help us avoid over-burdening our healthcare system.” he added.
To see the CDC recommendations about who should receive an influenza vaccine and when for the US population, click here. Our followers in other countries should consult their local healthcare system for recommendations.