Influenza, or ‘flu’, is spread mainly by coughing and sneezing. The majority of infected people recover within a week or two without requiring specific medical treatment.
However, in the very young, the elderly, and those with serious underlying medical conditions, infection can lead to severe complications. In some cases, infection can lead to pneumonia and death.
Annual seasonal flu epidemics affect between 10% and 20% of the population every year, leading most developed countries to embark on . Upon identification of the circulating strains for the year by WHO, seasonal influenza vaccines are developed every year to cover the three most prevalent strains circulating in the population.
In 2009, the WHO declared the first full-scale influenza pandemic in decades after a new strain of flu – known as H1N1 – spread across continents. A vaccine against this strain of influenza has since been incorporated into the annual flu shot.
Click here to read more about influenza
This article is part of a series compiled by Vaccines Today to raise awareness of European Immunization Week 2011 which runs from 23-30 April