Vaccination rates against influenza are decreasing, experts warn. And they remind us that this season, seniors over 65 can get vaccinated for free.
Vaccination against influenza does not provide 100% protection against the disease, but even if you do get sick, it reduces the risk of severe disease and life-threatening complications. Therefore, it is worrying that interest in vaccination against influenza is decreasing. In the 2022/2023 season, vaccination rates decreased by 20% compared to the previous flu season. (its increase was recorded during the COVID-19 pandemic, when almost 7% of the population was vaccinated).
Free flu vaccination for seniors
On August 30, the Act on Free Medicines for Seniors came into force. Thanks to this, people over 65 will receive vaccines free of charge. – Expanding the group of people who will be able to benefit from free vaccination against influenza is very good news. Vaccination rates among seniors in Poland are still too low. There are countries in Europe where over 70 percent are vaccinated. people in the autumn of life. For comparison, about 20 percent of us are vaccinated. We hope that this will change thanks to the new act, says prof. Adam Antczak, pulmonologist, head of the Department of Pulmonology, Rheumatology and Clinical Immunology, head of the Department of General Pulmonology and Oncology of the Medical University of Lodz and chairman of the Scientific Council of the National Program for Combating Infectious Diseases.
The expert recommends vaccinations for the elderly and sick before the start of the flu season – you can get vaccinated provided you do not have a febrile illness. – An additional argument in deciding to vaccinate against influenza is the fact that infection with the influenza virus may increase the risk of severe coronavirus infection and vice versa – vaccination against COVID-19 does not protect against influenza – adds Prof. Antczak.
You must have a prescription from your primary care physician for the vaccine. It is also worth remembering that vaccination can be performed by a pharmacist in a pharmacy, filling a doctor’s prescription.
6 million flu patients
Last flu season alone, over 6 million cases and suspected cases of influenza were recorded in Poland – according to epidemiological data from the National Institute of Health and Hygiene – National Institute of Hygiene. This data is incomplete, because it must be assumed that there were many more patients, because some people did not see a doctor and treated themselves with home remedies.
Approximately 6,000 people die every year due to flu complications. people over 65 years of age. – We know that this disease increases the risk of heart attack, stroke and pulmonary embolism by up to 10 times. This relationship is very well documented, says prof. Adam Antczak.