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Importance of vaccinations stressed at summit

chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2019-08-19 17:08

The 2019 Summit on Seasonal Influenza Prevention and Control Strategies Took Place in Beijing recently, whereby vaccination was once again reaffirmed most effective in preventing the flu and its complications.

The summit was organized by the Chinese Preventive Medicine Association with support from Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines division of multinational pharmaceutical company Sanofi.

The attendees included Weizhong Yang, vice president of CPMA, Lance E. Rodewald, senior advisor of the National Immunization Program of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Zhongjie Li, deputy director of Division of Infectious Disease of China CDC, and Luzhao Feng, researcher of the Division of Infectious Disease of China CDC, as well as experts from different levels of healthcare and disease control institutions.

Weizhong Yang, Vice President of CPMA. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

“The State Council’s advice on the ‘Healthy China’ initiative again highlighted the importance of chronic disease management as well as the prevention and control of seasonal influenza," said Weizhong Yang. "Vaccination plays a significant role in disease prevention, and the government encourages people at risk to get their shots prior to the flu season."

Unlike the common cold, influenza is an acute infectious disease. The direct invasion of the flu virus through the respiratory system can lead to serious or even fatal complications, such as viral pneumonia, secondary bacterial pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome, toxic shock syndrome, and disseminated intravascular coagulation. The flu virus mutates every year and causes seasonal epidemics.

The severity of the flu and its complications has long been underestimated by the public. According to the estimation by the World Health Organization, seasonal flu epidemics can cause 650,000 deaths per year, equivalent to one death every 48 seconds.

Lance E. Rodewald, said: “The morbidity and mortality of influenza have been growing dramatically in recent years. Data from the China CDC shows that there were 1.77 million reported influenza cases in the first 5 months of 2019, exceeding the total cases over the last 4 years.”

Dr. Lance E. Rodewald, Senior Advisor of National Immunization Program of China CDC. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

As a quickly-spreading infectious disease, the flu puts infants, schoolchildren, healthcare workers, pregnant women, people with chronic illnesses and the elderly at risk. Vaccination is the most economical and effective public health intervention for flu prevention and control.

Professor Suyun Qian from the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, Beijing Children’s Hospital, Capital Medical University, said that 40 percent of children with serious complications have no latent infections.

"To reduce the morbidity and mortality of severe influenza, the key is early diagnosis, treatment and prevention as well as raising awareness for vaccination. Children from six months to five years should be the top priority for influenza vaccination. For the families that have infants below six months, the family members and caregivers should be vaccinated to provide a safe environment for the babies," Suyun said.

However, the public still hasn’t fully recognized the importance of vaccination. Currently, the average vaccination rate in China is below 2 percent, far behind that in developed countries.

Luzhao Feng, researcher from the China CDC, pointed out that government support is of great significance in improving flu vaccination coverage, adding it is important to increase public awareness for the necessity of vaccination through broader education, to encourage government-funded vaccination investment, and to help create a more convenient and accessible vaccination service system.


Luzhao Feng, researcher of Division of Infectious Disease of China CDC. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

During the Summit, Sanofi Pasteur was named “Pioneer for Education on Influenza Prevention” by CPMA.

Sanofi Pasteur was named “Pioneer for Education on Influenza Prevention” by CPMA. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

Heping Zhang, General Manager of Sanofi Pasteur China, said: “As the only multinational vaccine provider with a local production facility, Sanofi Pasteur has established a world-class influenza vaccine production base in Shenzhen. We are looking forward to boosting China’s health education on influenza and its prevention and control, and to contributing to Healthy China as a health journey partner beside people in need.”

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