Vaccination is the most effective way to prevent infection and severe outcomes caused by influenza viruses.
Safe and effective vaccines have been available and used for more than 60 years. Among healthy adults, influenza vaccine can prevent 70% to 90% of influenza-specific illness. Among the elderly, the vaccine reduces severe illness and complications by up to 60%, and deaths by 80%.
Vaccination is especially important for people at higher risk of serious influenza complications, and for people who live with or care for high risk individuals.
WHO recommends annual vaccination for (in order of priority):
- nursing-home residents (the elderly or disabled);
- people with chronic medical conditions;
- elderly individuals; and
- other groups such as pregnant women, health care workers, those with essential functions in society, as well as children from ages six months to two years.