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Raise Urgency on Influenza

Focusing on Adults 65 years of age and older.

Influenza

Older Adults are More at Risk of Being Seriously Affected1

While adults aged 65+ represent approximately 15% of the Canadian population, they account for:2

  • Up to 70% of flu-related hospitalizations3-8
  • Up to 91% of flu-related deaths3-8

Older adults are the most vulnerable to influenza, due to age-related factors that increase their susceptibility to infections and complications.9,10

The Broader Impact of Influenza

Elevated Risk of Death Among Older Adults with Underlying Conditions

For Canadians aged 65+ admitted to hospital with a respiratory complication, the risk for influenza-attributed death was:

  • 5x greater among those with chronic heart diseases11

  • 12x greater among those with chronic lung diseases11

  • 20x greater among those with both chronic heart and lung diseases11

The Broader Impact of Influenza

Decreased Functional Status

  • Loss of independence was the biggest fear of almost half of Canadian seniors polled12
  • Influenza can lead to long-lasting disability in seniors13
  • In one study, 25% of nursing home residents with influenza experienced decline in at least one major function (bathing, dressing, and mobility) for at least 3-4 months post- infection14

The Broader Impact of Influenza

Adults 65+ are at High Risk of Influenza Complications

Immunosenescence

A natural and progressive weakening of the immune system with age that can result in:

  • Higher incidence and severity of infectious diseases, including influenza15,16
  • Lower strength and persistence of antibody responses to vaccines15,16
  • Influenza vaccine effectiveness is about half of that in healthy adults17

Chronic Conditions

According to data from 2007, 74% of Canadian seniors (65+) reported at least one of the following high-risk chronic conditions:18

  • Asthma
  • Cancer
  • Emphysema or COPD
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke

References

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2020a). Flu & People 65 Years and Older.
  2. National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI), 2016. A Review of the Literature of High Dose Seasonal Influenza Vaccine for Adults 65 Years and Older.
  3. PHAC. FluWatch. August 11-24, 2013. 
  4. PHAC. FluWatch. August 10-23, 2014. 
  5. PHAC. FluWatch. August 16-19, 2015. 
  6. PHAC. FluWatch. August 14-27, 2016. 
  7. PHAC. FluWatch. August 20-26, 2017.
  8. PHAC. FluWatch. July  22-25, 2018. 
  9. Gavazzi G. & Krause K. (2002). Ageing and infection. Lancet Infect Dis, 2(11), 659–666. 
  10. Pera, A. et al. (2015). Immunosenescence: Implications for response to infection and vaccination in older people. Maturitas, 82(1), 50–55.
  11. Schanzer, D. L., et al. (2008). Vaccine, 26(36), 4697-4703
  12. Canadian Association of Retired Persons. (2016). Important Survey on Seniors’ Health. Retrieved from http://www.carp.ca/2017/07/03/preventing-seasonal-flu-canada. 
  13. Covinsky, et al. Loss of independence in activities of daily  living in older adults hospitalized with medical illnesses: Increased vulnerability with age. The American Geriatrics Society, 51, 451-458. doi: 10.1046/j.1532- 5415.2003.51152.x 
  14. Barker, W. H., et al (1998). Archives of Internal Medicine, 158(6)..
  15. Doherty, M., et al. (2016). Vaccine, 34(52), 6681-6690.
  16. McElhaney, J. E., et al. (2016). Front Immunol, 7, 41. 
  17. National Advisory Committee on Immunization. (2019). Canadian Immunization Guide Chapter on Influenza and  Statement on Seasonal Influenza Vaccine for 2019-2020. 
  18. Canadian Institute for Health Information, 2011. Seniors and the Health Care System: What Is the Impact of Multiple Chronic Conditions?
MAT-BH-2200205-Mar 2022