The campaign, which begins next Tuesday the 13th throughout the Region, is advanced several weeks to prevent infections from coinciding with a possible increase in Covid-19 cases.
The Minister of Health, Manuel Villegas, today presented the details of the flu vaccination campaign for which the regional government has set up nearly 300 vaccination points. For this year, the Ministry has acquired 265,100 doses to which are added another 105,340 provided by the Ministry of Health. In total, this season there are 370,440 doses available, expandable, compared to 240,000 the previous season.
“In this season, in which co-circulation of influenza and covid viruses will occur, and since both viruses can cause complications in the same population groups, vaccination against influenza is especially important to individually reduce the risk of suffering from one of these diseases and also contribute to avoiding a possible overload of the healthcare system ”.
“Along with the universal protection measures, the flu vaccine is the most effective measure to prevent the disease and therefore it will be our greatest ally to face the pandemic during this fall and winter,” said Villegas. In this sense, the counselor stressed that influenza and pneumococcal infections “are the pathologies that cause the greatest disease and mortality among all those that can be prevented by vaccination.” He also recalled that “antibiotics are not effective against the flu, since it is a viral disease.”
The campaign is aimed at the particularly vulnerable population, such as people aged 60 and over, pregnant and in the 6 months after childbirth and chronically ill patients or with previous pathologies. Also to those who could transmit the virus to high-risk people, such as health professionals and teachers, “establishing a protective environment for the most vulnerable,” explained Villegas.
A large part of covid patients belong to risk groups in which flu vaccination is indicated, having also shown that the mortality of patients with covid doubles when they are also infected by the influenza virus.
In this sense, Villegas emphasized that “this season, with the current pandemic due to covid, the increase in vaccination coverage is of special importance.” The Ministry has set the objective of reaching 75 percent coverage both in people 65 years of age and over and in health personnel.
People who turn 60 during this 2020 should protect themselves against pneumococcus if they have not done so previously. In addition, those who received the pneumococcal on their 60th birthday in 2015 should receive a booster dose. For this, Salud has acquired another 25,000 doses of pneumococcal vaccines, 5,000 more than in the previous season, which will be administered coinciding with the influenza vaccine to improve pneumococcal vaccination coverage.
Specific agendas in health centers
The health centers have set up specific agendas for vaccination in the morning and in some centers also in the afternoon to avoid crowds. In addition, some of the clinics that are currently closed due to the pandemic will be opened, specifically to vaccinate. Some 2,500 immobilized or vulnerable people in their homes as well as their caregivers will also be vaccinated.
As a novelty for the 2020-2021 season, Health has developed a vaccination protocol in residences for the elderly and disability centers with specific coverage indicators for each center and as a whole. In order to reinforce the protection of the elderly in these centers, they will be vaccinated with a high antigenic load vaccine, a vaccine marketed for the first time in Spain and which has been reserved for these people. Residents age 65 and older will also be vaccinated against pneumococcus to provide greater protection against respiratory infections.
People who want to be vaccinated must request it from the infirmary of their health center, by phone or online through the previous appointment, or in the Patient Portal.
Among the recruitment activities planned for this year, personalized letters will be sent to the more than 16,000 people who turn 60 years old and SMS to mobiles to people over 60.
Prevention and symptoms
The Health Minister recommended taking “the same measures preventive measures that we already adopt against covid, such as frequent hand washing, especially after coughing or sneezing, since the flu is spread from person to person mainly by droplets of saliva or secretions emitted by coughing or sneezing ”.
The symptoms of flu are variable and can be confused with covid and other respiratory tract infections, since in these two diseases there are coincident symptoms such as fever, muscle aches and cough. In any case, you must consult with the health center.
The total cost of this influenza and pneumococcal vaccination campaign was 1,387,300 euros, 238,300 more than the previous one.
Influenza activity in the 2019-20 season was moderate both in the Region of Murcia and in the rest of the country. The region was characterized by the onset of the wave in the second week of January, reaching the maximum incidence at the end of that month, with 310 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, higher than the national average of 270.
Among the serious cases hospitalized in the Region that belonged to the groups eligible for vaccination, only 30 percent had been vaccinated.