Seasonal influenza is a major public health problem globally, causing significant morbidity and mortality, especially in high-risk groups. Children and adults with underlying chronic non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are especially vulnerable to complications, hospitalizations and even death from the infection. However, the link between NCDs and influenza is frequently underestimated. Vaccination against influenza is the single most effective way to reduce this vulnerability in people living with NCDs. Nevertheless vaccination rates in this group fall short of the WHO recommended target of 75%. (WMA.net)
• Improving influenza vaccination coverage among people living with NCDs is a complex task, and multiple strategies are needed at global and country levels to achieve the goal of 75% vaccination rate among this group.
• At the global level, it is critical to include influenza immunization as part of the monitoring framework for NCDs and underscore the vaccine’s importance in secondary prevention of these diseases.
• At the country level, strategies should target not only those at high risk of influenza complications, such as NCD patients, but also those at elevated risk of both contracting and transmitting the virus, such as schoolchildren and healthcare workers.
• The general lack of awareness by healthcare workers and particularly clinicians of the explicit relationship between influenza vaccinations and NCD management may be an important impeding factor in vaccination uptake among the vulnerable groups, especially people living with NCDs.