More flu vaccination in the first fall without a mask
Prepare for the worst because the flu is unpredictable. This is the maxim of many Public Health experts ahead of the next flu season, the first since 2019 that we face without the help of masks. And it is that these last two years the influenza virus has been circulating rather little, thanks in large part to the parallel measures adopted against the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, such as the use of face masks.
In this return to almost total normality that will be this fall, It is worrying that the flu will circulate again intensely after two almost blank years with the toll that this can suppose, as in previous years, both in terms of saturation in health centers and hospitals, sick leave and in human lives. The concern is double, moreover, in a winter in which the evolution of covid-19 is still unknown and if it will generate new important waves of infections.
The watchword, therefore, is to prepare and prevent, betting on increasing the number of people who are vaccinated against the flu.
«The virus in practice is very unpredictable and you have to prepare for the worst scenario, with a very good vaccination campaign,” The expert in Public Health and researcher in Fisabio, Salvador Peiró, assures this newspaper. “After two years with almost no flu and with a warning in the spring (out of season for us), it doesn’t look good,” adds the expert.
José María Eiros Bouza, spokesman for the Spanish Society of Infectious Diseases (SEIMC) and director of the National Influenza Center in Valladolid, is of the same opinion. «Our position is to recommend vaccination when it is established by the public health services of the different communities and ideally maintain high coverage,” says the expert, especially because “we do not know what the activity of influenza viruses will be like.”
And all because what will happen in the coming months is highly uncertain. LThe flu activity that is taking place in the southern hemisphere gives some clue but it is also no guarantee that the same pattern will be replicated here.
“In South America, after two years also with almost no flu, a bad season was also expected but, although they have had the flu, it has not been catastrophic. If the flu travels from hemisphere to hemisphere with travelers and in the austral winter there has been little, there is less transmission to the boreal.. but all that is theory”, explains Peiró.
Eiros Bouza supports this idea: «What has happened in the southern hemisphere and the activity reported by the flu centers in Argentina or Chile and those of British influence (South Africa, Australia…) has shown moderate activity» but, «With the flu, uncertainty is a variable that accompanies usa, but he will visit us”, concludes the flu expert.
good response last year
The Ministry of Health already set the goal of increasing flu vaccination coverage for autumn-winter 2021-2022 last year for fear that a bad flu campaign and a new epidemic wave would collapse hospitals. And it worked. ANDhe message got through and offering to be vaccinated at the same time for flu and covid helped increase the number of people protected, especially among health workers: in this group, coverage went from 58% in 2018 to 95% last year.
From the health administration they have not yet wanted to specify the main lines of this vaccination campaign, so it is still unknown from what date this immunization will be offered or if it will coincide with the fourth dose of covid-19 vaccine that has been approved for over 60 years, still no date.
In C. Valenciana it is usual for the campaign not to start until early or mid-October, later than in other areas of Spain because the flu usually arrives later than in other colder communities.