Researchers at the University of Michigan Health System say the federal government could promote flu vaccination to the elderly in a cost-effective manner that would ultimately save lives. They suggest that if the Federal government were to start a Flu vaccination programme, by direct advertising much in the lines of pharmaceutical companies.
They are hoping to target individuals more than 65 yrs of age who are at a higher risk of death due to influenza virus. They want the government to introduce direct consumer advertising to promote the flu vaccination. Their studies show that if the Department of Health were to induct the programme, they would save money and also save more than 6500 lives. The yearly vaccination is the largest safeguard against the flu.
Currently the vaccination rates are well under the planned rates almost a 25% points below the planned rate of 90% according to Dr. Matthew Davis, M.D., M.A.P.P, an assistant professor of pediatrics and internal medicine in the division of General Pediatrics and General Internal Medicine at the U-M Health System, and of public policy at U-M's Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy. The studies are being funded by the U-M Health systems.
He hopes that with direct consumer marketing, the elderly people who are maybe yet to be convinced or unaware of the vaccine can be targeted. By increasing demand through a promotional campaign, they could increase vaccination rates and still have a cost-effective program. With this in mind Davis along with second year students studied and did a hypothetical research for a 10 year programme, and found that the federal government could save, about 6516 lives and save about $37600 per year. The research further showed that with a 10 year budget of about $ 2.23 billion that would include all costs, vaccination and advertisements, the government would increase the rate by 20% in the first 5 months itself and reach a 26% point increase by 10 yrs, thus achieving the target of 90% by 2010. He further pointed out that if the target fell short they would still have saved a lot of money in the budget.
Though there are skeptics who feel that this would lead to a lot of expensive medication going to waste Davis feels that there can be no such thing as a expensive flu vaccination for the elderly.