Vanderbilt’s William Schaffner, MD, says Getting Flu Shots into Arms Won’t Be Easy

Interview

Schaffner, medical director of the National Foundation for Infectious Disease, says we need to re-educate on the dangers of flu and "sell" the influenza vaccine to the vaccine-fatigued.

"I think we're going to have to work very hard to get flu vaccines into arms this fall," said William Schaffner, MD, medical director of the National Foundation for Infectious Disease.

Schaffner's concern, he explained in a recent interview with Patient Care Online, is that amidst the prolonged promotion around COVID-19 vaccines and now COVID-19 boosters, concerns about influenza and the danger it poses as well as the US appetite for the flu shot could all be blunted. He suggested that patients may a reminder that flu is a "nasty virus" and that clinicians may "have to, if you will, sell influenza vaccine."

Like many in infectious disease and public health circles, Schaffner also is concerned about the convergence of re-emerging seasonal respiratory viruses with COVID-19 as mitigation measures wane, social interaction increases, and children go back to school. "Children have the distribution franchise for the influenza virus," he pointed out and added that influenza spread this year is going to be fueled by kids. In our short interview, he also provided coaching on vaccination persuasion.


William Schaffner, MD, is medical director of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, professor of preventive medicine in the Department of Health Policy and a professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville.