The vaccination campaign against influenza has started in all Italian regions since about mid-October. Children up to 6 years old and pregnant women will be able to receive the vaccine for free
With the arrival of winter we are used to seeing the number of cases of seasonal flu increase, even considerably. This year, however, the situation is a bit more particular.
The flu and flu-like syndromes it appears to be affecting fewer people than in previous years. Observing the latest InfluNet report, by the Istituto Superiore di Sanità, we find that in Italy in the last week of 2020 there are 1.5 cases of influenza (or flu-like syndromes) per thousand patients, a figure that is not only compared to the previous weeks, but also compared to the same week last season (3.9 cases per 1000 assisted). THE children under 5 are unfortunately the most affected, with an average of 3 cases per thousand assisted.
Experts remind us that with the ongoing health emergency, flu vaccination is even more important this year. But what else do we know about the 2020/21 flu so far? And how is the seasonal vaccination campaign going? We assess the situation.
In this article
Influence 2020/21: what we know
The first case of seasonal flu was identified in late September in a 9-month-old baby in Parma. It was an influenza virus of the H3N2 subtype A strain, a virus already known and for which a large part of the adult population has already developed antibodies, unlike children. The little ones in fact, not having come into contact with the strain in question, could be more affected, for this reason the flu vaccination is recommended.
At the moment, as reported by the Istituto Superiore di Sanità, the incidence level of influenza and flu-like syndromes is below the baseline threshold.
Influenza vaccination: where we are
The flu returns punctually every year, bringing with it fever, cough, muscle aches, sore throat and, especially in children, even nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
Influenza is a respiratory disease caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat and lungs with serious consequences for some categories of people. For this reason, to date, to avoid the disease the safest and most effective method is influenza vaccination which takes place from the end of October and continues until the end of December.
This year, however, due to the health emergency caused by the new coronavirus, the Ministry of Health advised the Italian regions to anticipate vaccination to counteract the spread of influenza viruses as much as possible. So in mid-October more or less all regions had started administering the flu vaccine to risk categories such as the elderly, small children, pregnant women and people with certain diseases. The vaccination campaign started early it will also continue in 2021 in order to protect as many people as possible.
The flu vaccine has been and still is in great demand, so much so that some mothers reported on the NostroFiglio Facebook page that they had struggled to book the flu vaccination for their children. The question therefore arises spontaneously: the purchased doses will be sufficient to protect all those who would like to get vaccinated? We are not sure yet as there have been many complaints about vaccine management. We just have to wait for more news, although it would seem that in some regions the arrival of new doses is imminent.
However, the priority remains that of vaccinating at least a good percentage of subjects at risk so, remember, the vaccine is totally free.
For whom the flu vaccination is recommended
The flu is not a minor illness as we often tend to think, but it can have serious consequences especially on certain categories of people. The Ministry of Health recommends influenza vaccination for:
1. People at high risk of influenza-related complications or hospitalizations:
- people aged 65 and over;
- women in pregnancy or in the postpartum period;
- people from 6 months to 65 years with diseases that increase the risk of complications from influenza including chronic diseases of the respiratory and cardiovascular systems, diabetes, metabolic diseases, chronic renal failure, tumors, diseases that involve a lack of antibody production ;
- children and adolescents on long-term treatment with acetylsalicylic acid, at risk of Reye’s syndrome in case of flu infection;
- family members and contacts of individuals at high risk of complications.
2. Subjects involved in public services of primary collective interest
3. Personnel who, for work reasons, are in contact with animals
4. Blood donors
For all these categories the vaccine is not only recommended, it is also free. For the 2020/21 flu season, the Ministry has also given the possibility to offer free flu vaccination also to:
- people between 60 and 64 years old;
- children between 6 months and 6 years.
In this case, however, it is up to the regions to choose whether or not to offer the vaccine for free.
The flu vaccine in pregnancy
Mothers-to-be are among the people for whom flu vaccination is highly recommended. In a moment so beautiful, but also so delicate, in the life of a woman it is indeed necessary prevent the risk of serious complications and influenza-related death.
All major health institutions, including ECDC and WHO also recommend vaccination for pregnant women.
Why it is important to vaccinate children
Children are those most affected by the flu syndrome and although the risk of serious complications is usually lower, the flu shot is very useful and therefore recommended. The goal is to prevent disease in the child and the discomfort that it can entail, but not only, we also want to prevent the spread of the flu virus in general, which is very dangerous for some people.
It will then be up to the parent, with the advice of the pediatrician, to decide whether to carry out the vaccination or not.
Where to get the flu shot
The free flu shot can be given to children vaccination clinics of health companies. Medical doctors …