Influenza is a serious threat to public health that affects billions of people worldwide every year, sometimes with deadly consequences. In Malaysia, the true prevalence of influenza is unknown, due to low awareness, limited testing, and under-reporting as influenza is not a notifiable disease. However, evidence shows that influenza has a disproportionately high impact due to higher healthcare utilization on Malaysian older patients.
The latest WHO advisory, backed by local advocacy groups, recommends prioritizing seasonal influenza vaccination for older adults during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the burden of influenza and the value of vaccination remain underappreciated by the general public. The situation is exacerbated by limited funding available to subsidize vaccination efforts, in part due to prioritization of other public health issues and to some degree because of budgetary constraints.
To gain a deeper understanding of the prevailing attitudes, perceptions and burdens surrounding influenza and influenza vaccinations in Malaysia as well as to recommend actionable solutions, Ipsos gathered insights from medical leaders and healthcare experts familiar with the struggles and challenges faced by the older Malaysian populations.
This paper aims to:
- Start a dialogue on the burden of influenza on high-risk groups such as older adults and highlight potential methods on how this burden can be managed, both in the short and long term.
- Drive policy recommendations that improve public awareness as well as the rate of influenza vaccination among the older generations in Malaysia.