The countdown for the start of the anti-flu vaccination campaign begins. Although last year “there was a drastic reduction in cases of flu-like syndrome”, the Ministry of Health – in the circular ‘Influenza Prevention and Control:
Recommendations for the 2021-2022 Season’ – highlights how “a relaxation of “anti-Covid” prevention measures can lead to a potential co-circulation of influenza viruses and Sars-CoV-2 and a greater impact on vulnerable populations and health systems “.
Influenza, family doctors: “Perhaps more impactful than last year”
This year the flu vaccination campaign will coincide with the anti-Covid one and with the start of the third dose of the anti Sars-CoV-2 vaccine. On this the ministry specifies that “the flu vaccine does not interfere with the immune response to other inactivated or live attenuated vaccines”.
It is therefore necessary to push on the accelerator also on immunizations against influenza, especially for “people at greater risk of related complications, adults and children with basic diseases, residents in social health and other chronic care facilities, people aged 65 and besides, pregnant women and some professional categories (health workers, essential service workers “, the ministry remarked.
Meanwhile, the decision of the Italian drug agency Aifa has been published in the Official Gazette which authorizes the update, for the 2021-2022 season, of the composition of the anti-influenza vaccines authorized according to the national registration procedure, of mutual recognition and decentralized.
The Ministry of Health recalls that “the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends reconsidering the priority of risk groups for influenza vaccination during the Covid-19 pandemic for the following reasons: to ensure optimal control of influenza between groups at high risk of serious forms of Covid-19 disease and flu. Hospitalization in health facilities – the circular continues
– could increase the risk of exposure to Sars-CoV-2 and the subsequent development of severe forms of Covid-19; access to emergency rooms and hospitalizations for influenza; reduce absenteeism among healthcare workers and other services essential for the response to Covid-19; ensure the management and optimal use of potentially limited seasonal influenza vaccines throughout the world”.
“The interim change in priorities for high-risk groups proposed by WHO is solely for the purpose of ensuring optimal control of influenza during the Covid-19 pandemic and should not have a negative impact on influenza vaccination and coverage programs. existing target groups, which are based on national policies and the epidemiological situation for both influenza and Covid-19 “, the ministry specifies.
The highest priority risk groups are health care workers (including hospital health workers and those in long-term care facilities such as nursing homes, residential, health and social care facilities) and the elderly.
Finally, “since a Covid-19 pandemic situation remains, there is an opportunity – the ministry points out – to recommend flu vaccination in the 6 months-6 years age group, also in order to reduce the circulation of the flu virus among adults and the elderly “, and reiterates
” the importance of strengthening virological surveillance by general practitioners and pediatricians of free choice in all regions. In this way it will be possible to estimate the impact of confirmed influenza and its effectiveness field vaccination of influenza vaccines, in non-hospitalized subjects of all ages “.