Flu arrives later this year

The number of people wishing to be vaccinated against influenza is on the rise

Photo: library

Twice as many Bulgarians will get flu shots this year. This means that people are starting to lose their prejudices against this type of prevention.

Pharmacies have already run out of flu vaccines, said state health inspector Dr. Angel Kanchev. All 160,000 doses for free sale have already been sold out. However, people over the age of 65 are provided with free vaccines which are applied by their GPs. It is expected that 120,000 seniors will be vaccinated against the infectious disease.

A total of 280,000 doses of the flu vaccine have been imported into our country and a huge part of them have already been used”, said Dr. Angel Kanchev. “So the barrier of 2-3 percent of vaccinated people over the age of 65 for the season has already been passed. We hope that the number of people protected from the flu will gradually increase until we reach the recommended 75-80 percent of people with the vaccine in the risk group for Europe”.

There have been no registered cases of flu in this country yet”, informs Prof. Todor Kantardzhiev, Director of the Center for Infectious and Parasitic Diseases. The National Reference Laboratory examines samples of people with respiratory infections every day. In recent days, experts have analyzed material for 14 types of viruses, taken from 17 children, and five of the samples were positive. Three of the children have rhinovirus and two have parainfluenza virus in the first group.

When we talk about viral infections of the respiratory system, almost any of them can lead to a very serious damage to the lungs, because flu often causes complications”, Prof. Todor Kantardzhiev added. “Thus, out of 10 thousand patients in this country, one gets brain inflammation every year, which is one of the most severe inflammations due to a viral infection. One in every three thousand people can develop a rapidly-developing flu infection which can lead within the space of only hours to respiratory failure and bleeding in the lungs”.

During this year four flu strains are expected - Brisbane, Colorado, Kansas and Phuket, so the vaccine is quadrivalent. The first cases are likely to occur by mid-December.

One billion people a year get the flu and it can cause high mortality”, said Dr. Skender Sila, Head of WHO's Bulgarian office. “Every year, about 650,000 people worldwide die from influenza-related respiratory diseases, and in Europe they reach 72,000 people. Those most vulnerable to severe complications are the elderly, pregnant women, young children, people with an impaired immunity system and the chronically ill. Therefore, the best remedy for influenza is the vaccine. Flu vaccines are safe and effective - they are the main way to prevent flu and reduce the risk of an epidemic. Seasonal influenza vaccines have been in use for over 50 years and have been administered to millions of people and have been proven safe”.

Thanks to the vaccines, this winter we will have twice stronger protection of the population, said Prof. Todor Kantardzhiev.

This is the first step because we are lagging behind a lot of countries. From now on, we need to think about vaccination for healthcare providers, pregnant women and children, as the infection is very serious. But all this has to be done with the conviction of the public that the vaccine is not dangerous, that it has no risks of vaccination from side effects and that it has a lot of benefits because it reduces the chance of getting sick. And when you get sick, the complications and the risk of hospitalization are reduced”.

And while waiting for the flu epidemic to start, it's good to know that we need to wash our hands regularly, cover our nose and mouth when sneezing and coughing, use disposable wipes, and avoid contact with people with symptoms of the disease.

English Rossitsa Petcova

Photos: BTA

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