Seasonal flu, caused by the influenza virus, can infect around 10% to 30% of the population in Europe each year. It leads to hundreds of thousands of people being hospitalised each flu season(1). Older adults and people with chronic health problems are especially vulnerable(1). Fortunately, seasonal flu is a vaccine-preventable disease(1), so how can we protect the population by improving flu vaccine uptake in Europe?
A Trusted Source of Health Information
As a healthcare provider (doctor or nurse), you are usually the first person your patients contact when they are feeling unwell. Patients trust your profession and know that you are working in their best interest. In fact, a positive correlation has been found between a patient’s trust in their healthcare provider and better health outcomes(2). With the patient-healthcare provider relationship rooted in trust, it is no surprise that a survey of adults with chronic health conditions showed (3):
- 51% of them got or plan to get a yearly flu shot because their healthcare provider recommended it to them.
- 47% of them who were uncertain about or weren’t planning on getting the flu vaccine would change their minds if a healthcare professional recommended vaccination.
- 26% of them who weren’t planning on getting the flu vaccine would be open to getting one if a healthcare professional referred them to their local pharmacy.
- 23% would be more inclined to take the flu vaccine if their healthcare provider prescribed the flu vaccine for them.
This shows how important it is that healthcare providers consistently speak to their patients about getting the flu vaccine this flu season!
Easy Access to Health Information
Patients frequently visit another group of healthcare professionals: local pharmacists. Pharmacists also play an important role in delivering healthcare(4). Across Europe, the role pharmacists play in vaccine uptake is different. In some countries, pharmacists focus on sharing immunisation information and supplying vaccines, while in other countries (including France and Germany) pharmacists can administer flu vaccines to adults(4)(5)(6). With pharmacies being open longer hours compared to healthcare providers’ office hours, patients often visit their local pharmacies 1.5 to 2 times more than they visit their healthcare providers(7). This places pharmacists in a unique position to deliver flu vaccine and information to the community they serve.
Other Ways to Prevent the Flu
- Avoid close contact with sick people
- Washing their hands frequently
- Avoid touching their eyes, nose or mouth
This flu season, include the flu immunisation topic in your conversations with your patients. Together, we can improve the flu vaccine uptake rate in Europe!
(1) Seasonal Influenza. ECDC. Available at: https://www.ecdc.europa.eu/en/seasonal-influenza Accessed on: 06-09-2023
(2) Trust in the health care professional and health outcome: A meta-analysis. NCBI. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5295692/ Accessed on: 06-09-2023
(3) Closing the Gaps on Flu Vaccination for Adults with Chronic Health Conditions. National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID). Available at: https://www.nfid.org/closing-the-gaps-on-flu-vaccination-for-adults-with-chronic-health-conditions/ Accessed on: 06-09-2023
(4) Community pharmacists on the frontline of health care. WHO. Available at: https://www.who.int/europe/news/item/25-09-2019-community-pharmacists-on-the-frontline-of-health-care Accessed on: 07-09-2023
(5) Les pharmaciens peuvent desormais vous prescrire et vous administrer vos vaccins. Service-Public.fr. Available at: https://www.service-public.fr/particuliers/actualites/A16732 Accessed on: 07-09-2023
(6) Grippeschutzimpfungen. ABDA. Available at: https://www.abda.de/themen/grippeschutzimpfungen/ Accessed on: 07-09-2023
(7) Pharmacists as accessible health care providers: quantifying the opportunity. NCBI. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8890748/ Accessed on 07-08-2023
(8) Seasonal Influenza Vaccines. ECDC. Available here: https://www.ecdc.europa.eu/en/seasonal-influenza/prevention-and-control/seasonal-influenza-vaccines Accessed on 07-09-2023
(9) Protect yourself against flu: Learn more about preventive measures. ECDC. Available here: https://www.ecdc.europa.eu/en/seasonal-influenza/prevention-and-control/personal-protective-measures Accessed on 07-09-2023