Preventing the Preventable: Influenza Vaccination in the Time of COVID-19
The development of vaccines and the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic have been the focus of the world’s attention for most of this year, but the teams at Sanofi Pasteur have also been working to ensure supply of existing vaccines to prevent additional outbreaks of other diseases and spare healthcare systems from preventable hospitalizations. Recently, the focus has been on the start of the influenza season.
“Even before the coronavirus pandemic, demand for influenza vaccines was growing,” says Lyn Morgan, Sanofi Pasteur Public Affairs Lead on Influenza and COVID-19. “Vaccination rates in recommended populations typically vary by country: some countries succeed in vaccinating large majorities of their recommended populations while others reach less than half.” Without consistently high coverage rates, influenza still takes a heavy toll around the world.
Influenza can trigger severe complications such as pneumonia and more unexpected outcomes such as heart attacks and strokes.1, 2 Each year, influenza-associated deaths range from 290,000 to 650,000 globally with some 10 million influenza-related hospitalizations.3, 4, 5
A yearly flu shot is considered the most effective way to prevent influenza infection and its complications. The World Health Organization recommends annual influenza vaccination for people aged 65 and older, pregnant women, people with pre-existing health conditions (such as diabetes, asthma, chronic heart or lung diseases), children aged six months to five years, and healthcare workers.6 Individual health authority recommendations vary by country.
The COVID-19 pandemic has further boosted demand for influenza vaccines in upcoming seasons to help protect vulnerable people and reduce preventable impact on healthcare systems.
Sanofi Pasteur offers several different kinds of influenza vaccines. Its standard-of-care quadrivalent vaccines help protect against all four main virus strain types that circulate each season and are some of the most broadly produced and administered flu vaccines worldwide. In addition, Sanofi has developed high-dose vaccines that are indicated for adults aged 65 and older, as well as a vaccine produced with recombinant protein technology, which ensures an exact match to virus strains recommended by the WHO each season.
“We have done everything possible to accelerate and optimize our supply of all of our influenza vaccines to help satisfy the additional demand this year around the world,” says Sean Batten, Lead on Global Supply Chain for Influenza Vaccines.
“We sincerely hope that the huge effort that has been made to maximize our ability to meet country requests for vaccines will contribute to less influenza disease this season, and fewer people at risk from its severe effects,” concludes Lyn.
If you would like to learn more about influenza vaccines or if one is recommended for you in your country, please ask your doctor.
World Health Organization (WHO). (2018c). Influenza (Seasonal). Retrieved from: https://www.who.int/en/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/influenza-(seasonal)
2 Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2019c). Flu and heart disease & stroke. Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/highrisk/heartdisease.htm?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fflu%2Fheartdisease%2Findex.htm
3 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Flu symptoms and complications
4 WHO factsheet
5 Lancet Respir Med 2019; 7: 69–89
6 World Health Organization (WHO). (2012a). Weekly epidemiological record. Vaccines against influenza WHO position paper, 87, No. 47 p 461–476. Retrieved from: http://www.who.int/wer/2012/wer8747.pdf