Experts lament the failure of flu vaccinations at the peak of the epidemic

Like it was déjà vu This week we have once again experienced some of the most woeful episodes of mismanagement of the Covid-19 pandemic.. The debate over masks is once again confronting policymakers, while emergencies in hospitals and medical centers across large parts of our country continue to remain saturated due to the threat of the so-called “triple democracy” and short-sightedness, ahead of what experts call a “return to normal.”

These days, the flu that causes influenza, the coronavirus that causes Covid, and the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) that causes dangerous bronchiolitis in infants are running rampant, putting the healthcare system under control and leaving a trail of sick people in its wake. leave. However, outside consolidation of SARS-CoV-2 as another member of the list of seasonal viruses that are here to stay“This respiratory infection season is the closest to the normalcy we experienced every winter before the pandemic, albeit with one more ingredient – Covid – but where we again see the ‘usual suspects’ playing major roles in the game, such as influenza and RSV. which have moved a little further this year,” he says. Juan ArmengolHonorary President of the Spanish Society of Emergency Medicine (Semes) and President of Semes Madrid.

In this situation, “There is no reason to paralyze economic activity or even consider leaving children without returning to classrooms.”although it is necessary to recommend the use of a mask in the presence of symptoms and in dangerous places such as medical centers, as well as among health workers and vulnerable people, since saturation is real and all indications are that these days will be worse,” Armengol achievements.

“Although each virus has its own rhythm and cannot be predicted with certainty, The return to school and return to work this week is expected to lead to an increase in cases. and the emergence of more cases of respiratory diseases reaching the peak of the flu epidemic these days, although the number of hospitalizations will still increase“, estimates Angela Dominguez, coordinator of the vaccination working group of the Spanish Society of Epidemiology (SEE). This is also evidenced by the latest report of the Acute Respiratory Infections Surveillance System, published this Thursday by the Carlos III Institute of Health, which confirms that “The influenza epidemic may have peaked in primary care in the last week of the year, while hospitalizations due to influenza continue to rise. There continues to be an increase in hospitalizations for RSV infection, especially in children under one year of age, while in older people there is a stabilization of hospitalizations for Covid.

The current situation, according to experts, is what would be expected on these dates, although there are some factors that act against. “The flu circulating these weeks is not particularly serious, but it is the most serious we have seen since the Covid-19 pandemic. The reason may be that Last year, SARS-CoV-2 continued to dominate the viral niche, which means that population immunity is lower.“, says Armengol.

Bad immunization

Another game-changer from the previous season is the decline in flu and covid immunization rates among adults, as well as low vaccination coverage among minors. “For the first time in our country this season, the flu vaccine is now available in all autonomous regions for children under five years of age. “We had high hopes for this, but the results so far have been disappointing.”recognize Javier Alvarez, member of the Vaccine Advisory Committee of the Spanish Association of Pediatrics (AEP). This is not surprising, since, according to Kike BassatDirector General of the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal), “Only one in four children have received the vaccine, and this is a very small number.”. In fact, although there are still no official statistics, “We see figures that, at best, as in Galicia, Murcia or Andalusia, barely 40% of children under five are vaccinated, while on average it does not reach 30%,” complains José Antonio Navarrese.Honorary Vaccine Consultant, Ministry of Health.

Are the numbers are “well below the desired minimum because vaccinating minors has a double benefit.”. The most important thing is that it protects them from diseases, which is not trivial for them, since There are more than 4,000 influenza-related hospitalizations in children each year, and 56.1% of children under five years of age admitted to intensive care units do not have any risk factors.. But besides that An additional benefit is the reduction in transmission of the virus, as children have been proven to be the driving force behind the disease, so if better immunization of minors were achieved, the influenza epidemic could be better controlled.“, it is said Jaime Perez, President of the Spanish Association of Vaccinologists (AEV)who looks at The United Kingdom “as a positive example of the role of influenza vaccination in minors.”, where influenza epidemics were controlled for many years. For this reason, Perez hopes that “little by little there will be more awareness of the need to protect children from influenza, and coverage will improve in the coming seasons.”

It also certainly doesn’t help that vaccination rates among adults have dropped again. “There is a certain “Vaccine fatigue” as a result of the pandemic. The population has now relaxed, and this year coverage of people over 65 and vulnerable groups remains below 60% for now, which is significantly lower than desired,” admits Navarro.

A good proof of this is that RSV appears to remain somewhat “at bay” this season.“thanks to the inclusion of the vaccine in infants, which allowed reduce hospitalization in this population by up to 80%”, Bassat emphasizes. For this reason, experts insist that immunization, beyond masks and hand hygiene when symptoms are present, is the best tool we have.

Get vaccinated on time

Since the incidence of respiratory infections is very high and health centers and hospitals are overcrowded, Experts insist that “we still have time to get vaccinated if you haven’t already and the criteria are met.”for example, over 65s, vulnerable people, professionals and essential staff, and children under five years of age. It is never too late, even for those who have already had an infection in recent weeks, since the flu has several strains and it is possible to catch another one again.. Although we are now close to the peak of infections, this does not mean that viruses will disappear,” insists the AEB president.

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