Janet E. McElhaney, MD, FRCPC, FACP, Geriatrician, Center for Immunotherapy of Cancer and Infectious Diseases and UConn Center on Aging, University of Connecticut School of Medicine, Farmington, CT, USA.
Influenza is a serious illness and is probably the single cause of excess mortality during the winter months in the portion of the population that is aged 65 and over. In spite of its limited efficacy in older adults, influenza vaccination is a cost-saving medical intervention that can help to prevent pneumonias, exacerbations of heart failure, and, surprisingly, heart attacks and strokes. As hospitalization rates for acute respiratory illnesses continue to rise in spite of widespread vaccination programs, antiviral drugs need to be incorporated into prophylaxis and early treatment strategies for influenza. Particularly in the institutional setting, seasonal prophylaxis or influenza outbreak control that involves the staff is essential.
Key words: influenza, antiviral drugs, vaccination, prophylaxis, drug resistance.