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The members of the Critical Care Societies Collaborative, which are the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN), American College of Chest Physicians (CHEST), American Thoracic Society (ATS), and Society of Critical Care Medicine (SCCM), strongly urge people to get vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus and to receive their influenza (flu) immunizations for the upcoming flu season.
In most years, flu is a major cause of critical illness, respiratory failure, and death. The winter of 2020-2021 was an exception, likely because the precautions taken to prevent transmission of the SARS CoV-2 virus were also effective at reducing the spread of flu. With adherence to mask wearing and social distancing waning, there is a risk of returning to prior years’ infection rates. For example, 380,000 hospitalizations and 20,000 deaths were caused by flu in 2019-2020, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Current forecasts for an active flu season foreshadow the potential for lives lost and further stress on a healthcare system that is already stretched far beyond resource capacity.
Flu vaccination is also critical for patients with lung diseases. Every year, flu affects adults with COPD, asthma, and pulmonary fibrosis more than the general population. People older than 65 and people with impaired immunity are also at higher risk of death. Flu can be especially severe in young children, for whom the mortality rate can be higher than in healthy adults. Children younger than 6 months, who are too young to receive the flu vaccine, depend on adults to be vaccinated to protect them. For all of these people, vaccines against COVID-19 and flu are an important component of personal and community protection against serious illness and death.
“Influenza and COVID-19 vaccinations help individuals protect themselves and their communities,” says AACN President Beth Wathen, MSN, RN, CCRN-K. “For those who are eligible, vaccination supports the best health outcomes for everyone. Flu vaccination can reduce the number of patients who need hospitalization and lessen their impact on a healthcare system already overburdened by caring for those with COVID-19.”
“COVID-19 has not made influenza disappear. Getting vaccinated against the flu is the best thing that everyone can do right now to protect ourselves, our loved ones, and our communities, especially as we head into the holiday season and hope to gather with friends and family," said ATS President Lynn Schnapp, MD, ATSF.
“Both the flu and COVID-19 can be incredibly dangerous for people with chronic health problems. The absolute best way to provide protection for yourself and those around you is to get vaccinated,” says CHEST President Steven Q. Simpson, MD, FCCP. “The vaccinations for COVID-19 and the flu are proven to be safe for all eligible individuals, are readily available, and can be given at the same time. There is no reason not to receive your vaccinations before this flu season.”
“Influenza vaccination is the safest and most effective way to avoid severe forms of influenza and to save lives,” says SCCM President Greg Martin, MD, MSc, FCCM. “Influenza hospitalizes hundreds of thousands each year, all too often leading to critical illness and the need for prolonged ICU care. Influenza vaccination can prevent the 50,000 or more people who die of influenza each year in the United States alone.”
It is recommended that everyone aged 6 months and older get a flu shot annually because the flu strains can change each year. The best time to get the shot is in the early fall before there are widespread cases, but it is not too late to get the shot throughout the flu season.
The CCSC leverages its collective and multiprofessional expertise through communication, education, research, and advocacy efforts. The CCSC speaks with a unified voice, representing nearly 200,000 critical care professionals to bring important issues to the forefront in public policy and in the healthcare arena.
Posted: 10/19/2021 | 0 comments
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