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Flu is serious, flu is unpredictable

By Kelsey Glatfelter posted 01-10-2017 01:50 PM


Blog post by: William Schaffner, MD

Last September, the National Foundation for Infectious Disease (NFID) held its 20th Annual Influenza/Pneumococcal News Conference. At the news conference, I was joined by representatives of leading medical societies and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to discuss the challenges of preventing and treating influenza (flu). To quote CDC Director Dr. Frieden at the news conference, “Flu is serious, flu is unpredictable,” and as such, NFID is committed to ensuring healthcare professionals are prepared to face each and every unique influenza season, especially in vulnerable populations such as older adults.


As the co-chair of the planning committee for the program seasonal influenza in the US, I encourage your participation in the complimentary online continuing education activity, Seasonal Influenza in Older Adults: Immunization Challenges and Options for Vaccination Strategies.


During the severe 2014-2015 influenza season, flu vaccination rates in older adults decreased and 37% of adults over age 65 were unvaccinated leading to seriously and at times deadly complications. More than three-quarters of the nearly one million people were hospitalized due to influenza that same year were 65 and older. Last flu season vaccination rates for older adults continued to drop and CDC reported a 4% drop in flu vaccination rates for adults age 65 years and older.


Healthcare professionals must take advantage of every opportunity to provide optimal protection for this vulnerable population. To promote, educate, and share information about the burden of seasonal influenza on Older Adults in the US, the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID), in partnership with the International Center for Infectious Diseases (ICID), and mdBriefCase Group Inc., developed a complimentary Influenza CME Activity.


The activity includes two modules:

    • Immunization Challenges and Options for Vaccination Strategies.
    • Case studies of a healthy 70-year-old female patient and a 79-year-old male patient


Learning Objectives:


Upon completion of the program, the participant should be able to:

  • Describe the pathophysiology, natural history, and clinical outcomes related to influenza in the adult population over 65 years.
  • Describe the estimated burden of disease for adults over 65 years that can be attributed to influenza, and how it varies by demographics, presence of other health conditions, and social determinants.
  • Summarize biological characteristics of this demographic with respect to the effectiveness and efficacy of influenza vaccines.
  • Compare different types of influenza vaccines with respect to efficacy, effectiveness, efficiency, and equity (including estimated net benefits, and safety), with a focus on FDA-approved vaccines for use in older adults.
  • Discuss potential policies/strategies to further protect older adults from influenza, i.e., by improving vaccine uptake in this population, and by immunization of health care providers and other close contacts.


Accreditation Information:
The National Foundation for Infectious Diseases designates this Internet Activity (Enduring Material) for a maximum of 1.5 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

Dr. Schaffner receives his fly vaccine.

Planning committee members:

William Schaffner, MD (Co-Chair), Joel Kettner, MD (Co-Chair), Wendy A. Keitel, MD, Kenneth E. Schmader, MD, and Diane M. Simpson, MD. International Contributors include Eduardo Lopez, MD, Janet McElhaney, MD, Albert Osterhaus, MD, Allan Ronald, MD, and Paul Van Buynder, MD.



Dr. William Schaffner is the medical director of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) and is Professor of Preventive Medicine in the Department of Health Policy as well as Professor of Medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, Tennessee.