Entela Bitri1, Romina Hala1, Iria Preza1, Erida Nelaj1, Silva Bino1, 2, Gentiana Qirjako1,2, Albana Fico1,2
1 Institute of Public Health, Tirana, Albania;
2 Faculty of Medicine, University of Medicine, Tirana, Albania.
Influenza places a substantial burden on the health of Albanians each year, accounting an important role on the burden of communicable diseases. Except deaths and symptomatic influenza, the large number of mild to moderate infections result in work absences, losses to production and pressure on the health and social care services.
The Flu Awareness Week is marked every year in October. It aims to raise awareness on the importance of vaccination for people’s health and well-being and to increase the uptake of seasonal influenza vaccination of the recommended risk groups such as pregnant women, older people, young children and people with underlying health conditions, all of whom are more vulnerable and at risk in developing complications from influenza. Additionally, health workers belong to the recommended groups and need to get vaccinated to prevent and protect their patients, relatives as well as themselves from influenza.
For several years, Albania has been part of European Flu Awareness Week, a WHO initiative through collaboration with the National Immunization Program and Department of Health Promotion at IPH. This Week provides an opportunity for public health professionals, health care professionals, health advocates, communities, and families from across the country to work together to promote flu vaccination before the traditional winter peak in flu activity.
During Albanian Flu Awareness Week 2019, many activities were carried out. A digital campaign toolkit for Influenza was prepared for use and distribution through IPH website and social media. All WHO Flu Awareness Campaign Films were translated into Albanian and were posted and shared in all IPH and MoHSP social media. Additionally, a workshop on how to respond to influenza vaccine hesitancy and denial with journalists and media professionals was organized. On the other hand, many public health experts were engaged in talk shows, interviews and discussions on the benefits of vaccination every season.
Keywords: Albania, influenza, Flu Awareness Week, vaccination.