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Why should you make a small thing a big deal?

Dr. Otmar Kloiber

- 09/10/2015
Secretary General of the World Medical Association

Let’s make this flu season different. Just imagine, a season without clinics full of runny-nosed patients queuing to see their doctors; without hospital wards filled to the brim with the elderly coughing; without patients frustrated that their operations have been postponed.

Let’s get away from the unnecessary strain, suffering and disruption that the flu brings with it each year.

Together we can make this happen. We want you to be a central part of it.

We can do even better

 Flu vaccinations currently save more than 25,000 every year. They prevent more than 1.6 million cases. This in turn means 700,000 fewer visits to general practitioners and 45,000 fewer hospitalizations.

These numbers are already amazing, but with your help we could do even more.

By improving vaccination coverage to 75%, we could prevent a further 1.6 million cases, a further 700,000 visits to general practitioners, and a further 24,000 hospitalizations. Keeping thousands of elderly people in particular out of hospitals would have such a big impact: fewer hip fractures, cases of pneumonia, strokes, and other catastrophic disabilities that take away their independence.

And even more importantly, more than 35,000 lives would be saved each year.

If we then improved on that coverage further, bringing it to the 83 to 94% levels required for herd immunity , just imagine how much quieter your practice would be, how much more smoothly your hospital would be able to run, and how much unnecessary suffering would be avoided.

Taking the strain off healthcare services

Flu vaccinations are between 70 and 90% effective in healthy adults. A flu shot would mean you and your colleagues could lose 64% fewer working days to flu-like illnesses.

Think about the impact that would have: less scrabbling around to find staff to cover for colleagues off sick; and less chance of operations needing to be postponed or wards needing to be closed because there are not enough people to care for patients.

The financial impact on our strained healthcare budgets would be significant too. The €248 million already saved would rise to around €438 million across the 27 EU member states if we worked together to bring vaccination coverage to 75%.

Take the lead – others will follow

Considering that flu is vaccine-preventable, we should not be allowing it to have the impact it has on us and our patients every year. By rolling up our sleeves and getting our shots, we could reduce the spread of influenza this year and in future years.

Join us in making this small flu shot a big deal. Take the lead, spread the word and others – your colleagues, your patients and your families – will follow.