National Immunization Awareness Month a chance to boost low flu shot rates around the globe: report

The onset of COVID-19 prompted the urgent need for vaccinations. However, as the immediate crisis of the pandemic receded, the adoption of immunization for other serious diseases, such as influenza, experienced lackluster uptake.

But August, which is National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM), presents an ideal opportunity to work on increasing flu vaccine rates, not only in the U.S. but also in Western Europe. This insight comes from analysts at GlobalData, whose latest report reveals that vaccination rates are relatively low in some of the wealthiest Western countries.

According to epidemiologists at GlobalData, during the 2022-23 influenza season, only 37% of adults aged 18-64 in the U.S. received the seasonal influenza vaccine. In the U.K., this number dropped to a mere 24%, and in Germany, it was a meager 11%.

However, the analysts report that vaccinations played a crucial role during that influenza season, averting approximately 36.25% of diagnosed incident cases of seasonal influenza in the U.S.

“Although NIAM is an annual observance in the U.S., the message is important for people around the world,” said Stephanie Kurdach, infectious disease analyst at GlobalData, in a release.

“Many people who are eligible to receive the seasonal influenza vaccine fail to do so, and they run the risk of developing serious complications.”

Flu shots have been inconsistent over the years, with some falling below the critical 50% efficacy threshold required to effectively combat a respiratory disease that, in the U.S. alone, can cause thousands of deaths, tens of thousands of hospitalizations and millions of hours of lost work due to illness.

However, the use of mRNA technology in COVID vaccines has revitalized flu shot research, despite encountering some trial setbacks.

In its report, GlobalData highlights combination vaccines as having the potential to enhance vaccine uptake, primarily because they reduce the number of injections required to achieve sufficient immunity against multiple respiratory illnesses.

Kurdach added that the introduction of new vaccines could have a positive effect on public perception regarding the advantages of immunization. This, in turn, could serve as a catalyst for the public to proactively seek routine vaccinations, thereby contributing to the objectives of NIAM in the U.S. and promoting immunization awareness worldwide