The best time to get a flu shot is between September and October. Journalists in Beijing, Gansu, Sichuan, Jilin and other places recently learned that due to the COVID-19 epidemic, the demand for influenza vaccination in autumn and winter this year has increased compared with the same period in previous years. Industry insiders believe that influenza vaccination may reduce the number of hospital visits due to influenza, avoid the overlap of influenza and COVID-19, and reduce the pressure of prevention and control. Local governments should step up the production and deployment of influenza vaccines, arrange vaccinating personnel and venues in advance, and reasonably cope with this year’s influenza season.
I’m even more afraid of catching the flu this year
“I’m more afraid of catching the flu this year.” Liu Yue, a woman born in the 1980s in Beijing, said that once she gets the flu, she is likely to have a fever. She is not only worried about whether she is infected with COVID-19, but going to a fever clinic will also increase the probability of COVID-19 infection. So, this year, the whole family is going to get a flu shot.
Liu Xiaoju, member of the Standing Committee of the Respiratory Society of the Chinese Medical Association, said that the main symptoms of influenza are fever, sore throat, cough and muscle aches all over the body, and very few cases are accompanied by digestive tract symptoms. There is no specific difference between fever and respiratory symptoms and COVID-19. Based on these symptoms alone, one cannot directly distinguish between influenza and COVID-19.
Journalists interviewed in Beijing, Gansu, Sichuan, Jilin and other places found that people’s demand for vaccination is generally higher than in previous years. “In the face of the COVID-19 epidemic, even my husband, who has never taken flu vaccine, thought that the flu weakens the immune system and vaccination can prevent other diseases,” said Tian Jingjing, a resident of the high-tech zone in Chengdu, Sichuan province, who takes her children for flu vaccination every year.
The first round of dispatching of 60,000 doses of flu vaccine in Gansu Province has been completed, according to the Gansu Center for Disease Control and Prevention on August 31. “Normally at this time of year, only 20,000 doses of influenza vaccine have been administered in the province. This year, the peak of vaccination has come earlier, and the impact of COVID-19 is a major reason.” Gansu Center for Disease Control and Prevention immunization planning director Zhang Xiaoshu said.
China CDC epidemiological chief expert zunyou wu said, autumn winter season is a common respiratory infectious disease influenza, pneumonia and other high-risk season, visits will be increased, the number of patients with overlapping COVID – 19 epidemic prevention and control, differential diagnosis difficult will give health care providers, and increase the difficulty that isolation and medical load, is not conducive to the epidemic prevention and control. The most effective way to do that is to get the flu shot early in the key population.
Plenty of Flu Vaccines
Are local governments responding to the increased demand for flu vaccination this year ahead of time and in sufficient supply?
Zhang Xiaohu said that Gansu Province has taken into account the factors of the epidemic and has forecast in advance, and actively coordinated with vaccine manufacturers to ensure market supply. According to Cheng Tao, director of the Immunization Planning Institute of the Jilin Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the provincial center has also conducted research on the shortage of vaccine and purchased some newly marketed flu vaccines. At present, all kinds of influenza vaccine varieties available for purchase on the market have been included in the procurement platform, and disease control institutions and vaccination units at all levels can make full choices.
A few days ago, the reporter in Sichuan Chengdu Guanxi Community Health Service Center to see, the citizens have been vaccinated to more than 40. After registering their identities and receiving a vaccination notice, they waited a short time before receiving a trivalent flu split vaccine. The staff of the community health service center said that with the increase in the demand for vaccination, the stock of influenza vaccine has been “replenished” this year and can meet the demand for vaccination.
It is understood that for nearly a year or two parts of the flu vaccine shortage phenomenon, in 2019 countries will intensify unified deployment of the influenza vaccine, in 2020, how companies to join the flu vaccine production, companies have also invested some old vaccine influenza vaccine research and development of new varieties of, at present the national influenza vaccine production capacity increased.
“Sufficient vaccination staff and sites are also important to meet the needs of people for influenza vaccination, which requires research and coordination in advance.” Taolina, who used to work at the provincial CDC for vaccination management, said that some provinces have a policy of free vaccination for children and the elderly, so every year during the vaccination period, disease control workers have to go to schools to complete their work, which is a heavy workload. In the face of a possible vaccination spike this year, vaccinators must be prepared in advance.
In order to prevent people from gathering, local governments have made arrangements, including providing more vaccination sites and times and making vaccination appointments. On the afternoon of September 1, the reporter at the Linhe Community Health Service Center in Changchun Economic and Technological Development Zone, Jilin Province, learned that in the past, only morning vaccinations were allowed. However, due to the large number of influenza vaccinations, the center opened a special time period in the afternoon.
Preparedness for a special flu season
Experts warned that in accordance with the high flu season, the general public before October to complete the vaccination is advisable. Liu Shuyu, deputy chief of the immunization planning department at the Gansu CDC, said that getting vaccinated as early as possible would both avoid crowds and give people enough time to develop antibodies before the flu season begins.
Leng Jun, director of the Meishan Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Sichuan Province, said it is not difficult to produce a large number of influenza vaccines, but the difficulty lies in how to allocate resources rationally to avoid waste. Although the demand for influenza vaccine will increase this year, it is difficult to say how much the increase will be. It is suggested that relevant departments and vaccine manufacturers carry out full research, select a certain sample size, estimate the growth rate of vaccine demand, and then make arrangements at the production end.
Yang Xiaoting, deputy chief of the acute infectious disease prevention and control department at the Gansu Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said that China’s influenza surveillance is annual and full coverage, with more than 400 network laboratories and more than 500 “sentinel” hospitals taking on the task of monitoring local influenza activities, and that these “sentinel” should be given full play to the role of timely warning.
Experts advocate, hope that people through the formation of good hygiene habits, reduce the risk of respiratory infection, wear masks, wash hands frequently, often ventilation, maintain social distance and so on, to prevent all respiratory infections are very effective measures. Yang said that due to the good hygiene habits people have developed since the outbreak of COVID-19, the incidence of hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD), which occurs frequently in summer every year in Gansu, is significantly lower this year than in previous years, and the incidence of respiratory diseases such as rubella and mumps is also generally lower than in previous years. (Reporter Liang Jun, Chen Jianlin, Miao Miao)