October is the prime time for flu vaccination, and the US and Europe are gearing up for what experts expect is high demand as countries avoid “twidemic” with COVID-19.
Dr. of the National Institutes of Health of America Anthony Fauci said on Thursday, “When we come in the fall and winter months and the flu season, we will experience the sneaky overlap of the flu and the coronovirus, Dr. Anthony Fauci.” Flu earlier this week.
The US alone has a record number of flu vaccine doses of between 194 million and 198 million – after much consideration last year, only half of adults were vaccinated and usually remain.
Still, there is no way to know how many shots one will be looking for this year and some people are occasionally taking drugstores or clinics temporarily out of stock.
Be patient: Apply flu vaccine slowly. Less than half have been delivered so far, and CDC and manufacturers say more are in transit.
Dr. of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Daniel Jerrigan told The Associated Press, “This year I think everyone wants to get their vaccine and maybe more than ever.” “Don’t be disappointed if you can’t get your vaccination done” but keep trying.
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Pharmaceutical giant Sanofi Pasteur, which supplies around 250 million doses worldwide, including 80 million to the US, says it has increased shipments in November.
The vaccine-making company Cicurus can squeeze out “a limited number of additional supplements” to meet high demand, she explains.
The brewing flu vaccine is time consuming. After production ends for the year, countries simply cannot order more – making for a tense balancing act as they anticipate how many people will roll up their sleeves.
Germany typically buys 18 million to 19 million doses, and ordered more this year. As German Health Minister Jens Spahn said: “If we manage together to make the flu vaccination rate so high, that all 26 million doses are actually used, I will be a very happy Health Minister . “
Spain purchased additional supplements in hopes of vaccinating older adults and pregnant women than usual, with key workers in health facilities and nursing homes.
In contrast, Poland, which had 100,000 doses unused last year, did not anticipate higher demand this fall and is seeking more.
Good news: The same precautions that help prevent the spread of coronavirus – wearing masks, avoiding congestion, washing your hands and keeping your distance – can also help block influenza.
Winter came to an end in the Southern Hemisphere and countries such as South Africa, Australia, Argentina and Chile combined with a major push for influenza vaccination with hardly any flu diagnosis for the COVID-19 ban.
The coronovirus is still reeling and as more and more schools and businesses are reopening in the cold season, there is no guarantee that countries in the Northern Hemisphere will be lucky with the flu.
Dr. of Vanderbilt University William Scheffner and the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases predicted, “How much flu we have, but we don’t know.”
A flu vaccine only protects against influenza, not coronovirus. While its effectiveness varies from year to year, said Scheffner, people do not get sick to prevent pneumonia, hospitalization, and death.
The CDC estimated that the flu last year hospitalized 400,000 Americans and killed 22,000.
Adding the flu to the toll of COVID-19 – which has killed more than 1 million people, including more than 206,000 Americans worldwide – will advance stressful hospitals. Symptoms of both the flu and coronavirus are similar and even though they are mild, Scheffner warned of confusion as people are looking for tests to find out which disease they have and if they need to be around.
“Take the flu in this equation,” Jernigan advised.
Who needs a flu vaccine?
The US recommends it for everyone starting at 6 months of age. But the flu is most dangerous for people over 65 years of age, young children, pregnant women and people with certain health conditions such as heart disease, asthma, even diabetes.
Most Americans with insurance can get it without co-payment, and there are a variety to choose from: regular shots, two types of shots that aim to give older adults a little extra protection and nose spray.
The CDC does not recommend one to the other. If you can’t find the type you like, “We don’t ask people to shop around and wait forever,” Jernigan said. “The best vaccine to receive is the vaccine that is available to you.”
This year the CDC wants states to increase flu vaccination among blacks and Hispanics who are less likely to get a shot than whites and are at additional risk from COVID-19. Some states are also conducting drive-through flu vaccination and outdoor clinics to avoid congestion.
And at the same time they are immunized against the flu, older adults and people with chronic diseases should also ask about receiving a vaccine against a type of pneumonia that is a frequent complication, US officials urged.
In most of Europe, high-risk people receive priority. France has ordered 30% more flu vaccine than last year, with the first exposure given to higher risk as vaccination begins later this month.
In Italy, doctors and pharmacists have expressed concern about the supply, as the Ministry of Health negotiates with vaccine producers to ensure everyone who wishes can receive the vaccine. Italy lowered the threshold for getting the flu vaccine free from 65 to 60 years of age.
The UK’s Department of Health hopes to get adequate doses for about half of the population, but cautions that some doctors and pharmacies will not receive shots until later falls. The UK usually offers free flu vaccines to older adults, pregnant women and some other at-risk groups, and is discussing whether others should qualify for a free shot this year.
The World Health Organization said last week that some countries are scrambling to make sure they get enough flu vaccine. WHO encouraged any country concerned about the shortage to prioritize health workers and older adults.