Canadians and public health need to focus on preventing seasonal flu

July 3, 2017 – Recent findings from the CARP Health Survey Poll™ on healthy aging and the effects influenza can have on seniors revealed that almost half of respondents said their biggest fear of aging was loss of independence.1

The survey of almost 10,000 CARP members showed that 93 per cent of respondents believe it’s possible for seniors to stay healthy all year round.[i] However, seniors are at high-risk for the most severe consequences of seasonal flu including hospitalization and death.[ii] It is estimated that up to 91 per cent of flu-related deaths occur in those 65 years of age and older.[iii]

What the CARP Survey Revealed

Over two-thirds of survey respondents are unaware that people over the age of 65 generally have weakened immune systems and are at a higher risk of developing flu related complications.1,2  Further, it’s not widely known that seniors are at risk of functional decline as a result of flu, with the potential for significant decline in independence and mobility.[iv]

The Impact of the Seasonal Flu

The flu can be especially impactful on seniors with even one existing chronic condition, as NormaJean Eberle of Nanaimo, BC learned. Having been diagnosed with kidney disease years before, contracting the flu reduced her kidney function to just seven per cent. Now kidney dialysis that was supposed to start two years from now might begin in just a few months.

CARP Calls on Government and Canadians

CARP has long advocated for the health and wellbeing of Canadian seniors and encourages seniors to get immunized against influenza. CARP also wants to ensure seniors are armed with the best knowledge and resources to help protect themselves against the flu. One way is by raising awareness around a new high dose flu vaccine which has been demonstrated to provide a better immune response in adults 65 and older, helping to improve protection against the flu, great than the standard flu vaccines.

“Governments need to support immunization options that help adults over 65 years of age to stay as healthy as possible,” says Anthony Quinn of CARP. “We should strive to improve healthcare for the aging population and ensure this new flu vaccine developed for seniors is publicly funded.”

CARP encourages its members to help ensure this new flu vaccine is publicly funded and that all eligible seniors have access.

CARP Poll question

 

Supported by an unrestricted educational grant from Sanofi Pasteur


References:

[i] Canadian Association of Retired Persons. Important Survey on Seniors’ Health. May 2016. Survey results on file.
[ii] Public Health Agency of Canada. An Advisory Committee Statement (ACS) National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI). Canadian immunization Guide Chapter on influenza and statement on seasonal influenza vaccine for 2016-2017: May, 2016.
[iii] Public Health Agency of Canada. FluWatch Report: August 16 to August 29, 2015 (Weeks 33 & 34). http://publications.gc.ca/collections/collection_2015/aspc-phac/HP58-1-2015-34-eng.pdf. Accessed May 2016.
[iv] Barker et al. A study of the impact of influenza on the functional status of frail older people. Arch Intern Med. 1998 Mar 23;158(6):645-50.

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