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Government should consider economic as well as health benefits of flu vaccinations, says think tank

The Government should consider the economic as well as health benefits of vaccinating people against flu, according to research by a think tank.

Research by the International Longevity Centre – UK (ILC-UK) argued that flu can adversely affect productivity within the economy. The biggest economic benefit of vaccinating against the condition is the reduction of lost employment and care giving costs, which total between £90m and £270m , it said.

ILC-UK developed a new static economic model that found that vaccinating against flu prevents between 180,000 and 626,000 cases of the illness every year and helps to avert up to 8,800 premature deaths per year.

ILC-UK said its model is likely to be a conservative one because it is static and therefore unlikely to underestimate the potential cost benefits of flu vaccination.

The Government must make a “greater effort” to increase flu vaccination coverage rates, especially among younger people who are more likely to contract flu, ICL-UK said.

Ben Franklin, ILC-UK assistant director of research and policy, said: ”Seasonal influenza remains a potent public health concern around the globe and much of the burden falls on older people. The flu continues to impose a serious burden on health services, as well as resulting in “productivity losses” due to poor health and sick days. Policymakers should take into account the economic as well as the health costs of vaccine preventable diseases when assessing the value of vaccination. Industry must work to ensure that innovations in vaccination improve the efficacy of vaccination among older people.”

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