Annual influenza epidemics create a significant public health burden each year in the United States. That influenza continues to pose a public health threat despite being largely preventable through vaccination is indicative of continuing weaknesses in the U.S.'s public health system. Moreover, the burden of annual influenza epidemics and the fragility and instability of the capacity to respond to them underscore the U.S.'s ongoing vulnerability to pandemic influenza and highlights gaps in bioterrorism preparedness and response efforts. This article examines the burden of annual influenza epidemics in the U.S., efforts to combat that burden with vaccination, shortcomings of influenza vaccination efforts, and how those shortcomings exemplify weaknesses in pandemic influenza and bioterrorism preparedness efforts. We make the case for establishing an annual universal influenza vaccination program to assure access to influenza vaccination to anyone who can safely receive vaccination and desires it. Such a program could greatly reduce the annual burden of influenza while advancing and maintaining U.S. pandemic influenza and bioterrorism preparedness and response efforts.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Health(social science)
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law