Flu season begins, experts stress importance of flu shot during pandemic

Children can receive a nasal vaccine from mid-October.

Illustrative stock photoIllustrative stock photo (Source: Unsplash)

Flu season started at the beginning of October, according to experts. Vaccination against seasonal influenza is recommended especially for at-risk groups of patients.

Those most at risk of getting the flu are older people, patients with chronic disease and healthcare workers and the employees of nursing homes. The flu vaccine is also recommended for children and pregnant women, the State Institute for Drug Control (ŠÚKL) said.

“Experts are pointing to the importance of the vaccination again this year because a combination of the flu and Covid-19 could be especially dangerous,” ŠÚKL said.

The overall vaccination rate against the flu in Slovakia is very low, equalling some 5.7 percent.

Novelty on the market

“As influenza and COVID-19 vaccines are non-living vaccines, it is recommended that vaccines be given at standard intervals of 14 days to better differentiate any adverse reactions. If the vaccinated person is at a high risk of infection and severe COVID-19 or influenza, both vaccines may be given at any interval or concurrently, each in a different arm,” explained Zuzana Krištúfková, President of Slovak Society of the Epidemiology and Vaccination, as quoted by the SITA newswire.

There are three vaccines against the flu registered in Slovakia: Vaxigrip Tetra, Influvac Tetra and Fluenz Tetra. The first 219,880 doses of Influvac Tetra were delivered in Slovakia in early September. Pharmacies expected 200,000 doses of Vaxigrip Tetra by the beginning of October. A novelty in Slovakia, the nasal vaccine Fluenz Tetra is meant for children and teenagers between the ages of 2 and 18. In mid-October, 30,000 doses of this vaccine should arrive in Slovakia.

Flu vaccines are being adjusted every year. “It is because the flu virus mutates and can change its characteristics,” ŠÚKL said. “Annual vaccination, therefore, protects against those strains of the virus that currently predominate in the population.”

People interested in vaccination should contact their GPs or pediatricians.

Stronger wave?

Flu season starts in October and ends in April of the following year. In Slovakia, the flu epidemic occurs most often in January and lasts until the end of February. The protection from the vaccine lasts one flu season.

Pharmacists ready for vaccination but there is no legislation Read more 

Epidemiologists expect more cases of the flu this season after the influenza virus almost evaporated last year since many people were wearing masks and mass gatherings had limitations.

“As the majority of the population did not encounter the influenza virus, resistance to it decreased because they did not strengthen natural immunity,” the Slovak Society of Epidemiology and Vaccination added.

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