EU calls for increased flu vaccination ahead of second coronavirus wave

EU calls for increased flu vaccination ahead of second coronavirus wave
Credit: Belga

The European Commission on Wednesday recommended that Member States increase seasonal flu vaccination coverage to reduce pressure on health care systems.

This recommendation features among various measures to coordinate Member States in preparation for a possible second wave of the new coronavirus (Covid-19).

Simultaneous outbreaks of seasonal flu and coronavirus would put considerable pressure on health systems, the Commission warned.

“We have come a long way from the height of the Covid-19 pandemic but the virus is still circulating,” commented Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides. “Now is not the time to let our guard down,” she warned, calling on Member States to take “strong and joint action to protect our citizens.”

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The Commission will support Member States that put in place increased surveillance for seasonal influenza, more testing and easier access to vaccines and differential diagnosis, which is the process of distinguishing diseases that present similar clinical features, as is the case with coronavirus and the flu.

Member States should also consider anticipating vaccination campaigns and widening target groups, the Commission said, stressing the need to combat reluctance to vaccinate.

“Drawing on the lessons of the past months we are planning ahead to avoid improvisation, reinforcing our preparedness on all fronts,” Commission Vice-President Margaritis Schinas underlined.

The Commission also highlighted the need to increase the use of testing and the interoperability of mobile tracing and alert applications across national borders. Ten Member States have already launched such apps and eleven others are preparing to do so.

The importance of joint procurement of medical equipment and strategic stocks at an EU level was underlined again.

Finally, the commission insisted on the need to carry out stress tests on healthcare systems.

The Brussels Times

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