Influenza is one of the main causes of mortality worldwide. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates between three and five million cases of serious illness annually, with a special incidence on the most vulnerable people, such as the elderly, children under five years of age, pregnant women, and chronically ill people. The flu can result in serious health complications, leading to hospitalisations.

Annual vaccination is considered the most effective measure to prevent influenza and its complications. In this consensus, health professionals from different specialties also refer to the implications that influenza virus infection has on patients with different comorbidities, such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) (respiratory virus infections are the main cause of exacerbations in this disease), heart disease (causes an increased risk of myocardial infarction), and diabetes (diabetic patients have higher rates of hospitalisation, emergency room admission, and flu-related deaths).

Therefore, considering all the scientific evidence collected, medical societies present the following recommendations and conclusions:

  • Flu vaccination is the basis of the effort to reduce the impact of influenza and its complications, especially in high-risk groups such as the elderly, young children, pregnant women, and chronically ill people.
  • Vaccines are safe and effective. For people aged 65 and over, a vaccine with a higher dose of inactivated virus is recommended.
  • Some studies have shown that vaccination against influenza significantly reduces hospitalisations and mortality in immunocompromised patients and in patients with respiratory diseases, such as COPD, cardiovascular diseases, and diabetes. These high-risk groups must be vaccinated annually.
  • The vaccination of healthcare professionals against influenza is essential given their greater exposure to the virus (risk of infection) and high-risk patients (risk of transmission). Vaccinating these professionals provides multiple benefits, such as controlling infections in healthcare environments, reducing absenteeism, reducing mortality, and promoting vaccination through the example it sets.
  • The EU target of a 75% vaccination coverage rate for individuals over the age of 65 was achieved in Portugal due to free and easily accessible vaccination, recommendations from healthcare professionals, epidemiological surveillance, and national vaccination campaign awareness.

  • To increase vaccination coverage rates, strategies such as greater health literacy, and greater accessibility and free vaccinations are necessary.

For more information please contact Grupo HPA Saude on (+351) 282 420 400.