Sanofi Pasteur and Lebanese medical societies join efforts to prevent influenza revealing local recommendations for the first time
As a health journey partner, Sanofi Pasteur, a leader in vaccines protecting against infectious diseases and a global partner for immunization, organized a media briefing session to improve awareness on influenza and the preventative actions. Held at Le Grey Hotel in collaboration with the Lebanese Order of Physicians, Lebanese Society of Infectious Diseases and Clinical Microbiology, Lebanese Pulmonary Society, Lebanese Society of Family Medicine, Lebanese Society of Internal Medicine and Lebanese Pediatric Society, the session revealed the local recommendations developed for the first time to underpin the importance of flu vaccine in preventing complications and limiting health and cost burdens.
“It’s important to remember that flu can affect anyone including healthy people and it’s crucial to take preventative measures,” said Dr Zahi Helou, President of the Lebanese Society of Infectious Diseases and Clinical Microbiology. Vaccination can save lives, prevent numerous hospitalizations, and protect individuals and the public at large from severe, life-threatening complications. Health habits like covering your cough and washing your hands regularly can help stop the spread of germs and prevent severe respiratory complications. Pregnant women, elderly people, children, immunocompromised patients, or people with underlying medical conditions such as diabetes , Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) are at high risk of catching flu. This is why, high risk groups and their contacts should get vaccinated,” added Dr Helou.
The briefing session revealed an evidence-based set of recommendations to act as guidelines for physicians. Prepared by experts from the medical societies of Infectious Diseases and Clinical Microbiology, Pulmonary Diseases, Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, the recommendations highlighted the most effective ways to protect against vaccine-preventable diseases. This includes: performing routine annual influenza vaccination; identification of high-risk groups who should get vaccinated along with their contacts and caregivers. People at risk are children and adolescents aged 6 months to 18 years old, pregnant women or planning to get pregnant during the flu season, adults above 65 years old, patients suffering from heart, renal, metabolic, hepatic diseases; chronic pulmonary and hematologic disorders; neurological and neurodevelopment conditions; as well as immunocompromised patients. In addition to caregivers and contacts of residents in nursing homes and long-term facilities, healthcare workers including inpatient and outpatient care settings are considered high risk groups. And according to the recommendations, vaccination should occur before onset of influenza activity in the community, optimally before December.
“This past flu season was a stark reminder of how unpredictable flu can be. As pediatricians, we have a paramount responsibility to encourage people and especially mothers to go further in their efforts ensuring their children are vaccinated”, said Dr Joseph Haddad, President Elect of Lebanese Pediatric Society. “The vaccine significantly reduces a child’s risk of severe illness and flu-related complications. Recent data has shown that inactivated flu vaccines are safe and immunogenic in protecting against the four circulating strains of the flu virus”, added Prof Haddad.
Influenza, commonly known as flu, is a highly contagious, acute, viral respiratory infection. Influenza viruses exhibit a high degree of variability. Depending on the extent of the genetic mutations from one year to another, the degree of protection in the population varies and influenza epidemics of variable intensity will occur.
Marwan Sherif, Sanofi Pasteur Levant and Ukraine head said, “Sanofi Pasteur is at the forefront of influenza vaccine innovation. We are dedicated to continuously improving our influenza vaccine effectiveness to ultimately help protect against influenza disease. Sanofi Pasteur, from its position as one of the leaders in the vaccine industry, is keen on playing an active role as a public health partner to enhance community health”.
As influenza is a highly contagious disease, the public health management issued a set of measures including: regular hand washing, good respiratory hygiene – covering mouth and nose while coughing or sneezing using tissues and disposing them correctly, early self-isolation of those feeling unwell, feverish and having other symptoms of influenza, avoiding close contact with sick people, and avoiding touching one’s eyes, nose or mouth.
The awareness campaign this year includes a wide array of activities to help reach out to Lebanese across all areas. The campaign consists of posters in clinics and hospitals, patient educational material, TV and radio commercials as well as interviews with doctors, training workshops to pharmacists among other initiatives to ensure a proper community outreach.