Asia offers more influenza shots to take off COVID-19 difficulties

Asia offers more influenza shots to take off COVID-19 difficulties


  • Post By : Kumar Jeetendra

  • Source: Reuters

  • Date: 14 Sep,2020

Some Asian countries are rolling out early and more competitive influenza vaccination programs this year, seeking to decrease the capacity of people contracting the flu and COVID-19 simultaneously, crippling health care systems.

With a second or third wave of the coronavirus pandemic looming for many countries, tackling this year’s flu season – typically December through February – has taken on increased urgency.

Officials are also advocating symptomatic patients to call medical hotlines before going for testing to avoid contagion at hospitals.

“We are going to focus our medical resources on the severely ill in anticipation of the seasonal influenza epidemic,” Takeshi Enami, a Japanese health ministry official said last week after a meeting of disease specialists.

The World Health Organization has urged global widespread flu vaccinations this year, amid concerns the same people who are prone to dangers from COVID-19, such as the elderly and those with respiratory conditions, are also at highest risk for the flu.

Data on the amount of annual flu cases across Asia is restricted, although Japan had about 12 million cases in the 2018/19 season, according to an official source.

In South Korea, health authorities are procuring 30 million flu vaccines for the winter season, up 20 percent from last year. Around 19 million individuals will be inoculated for free, covering a third of the nation’s population, up from 13.8 million a year ago.

Officials are also expanding the demographic window for free vaccination, this year covering children from six months to 18, adults over 61 and pregnant women.

South Korea’s biggest flu vaccine maker GC Pharma told Reuters it’ll make over 10 million flu shots for this season, up from the 8.5 million doses last year.

In Taiwan, the government said it views the seasonal flu and the coronavirus as two separate concerns as they can control COVID-19 with existing strict rules, including mandatory quarantines. Officials said late last month they intended to provide more than six million free doses this year.

In China, where flu shots are usually not free, some local authorities have reported a surge in demand. Disease prevention authorities in the Changning district of Shanghai city told local media they anticipate demand for influenza vaccines in the fall and winter to boost some 50 percent from previous years.

In Australia, where the influenza season runs approximately from June to September, officials procured 16.5 million flu shots, up from 13.2 million last year.

The moves in Asia echo similar efforts in North America and Europe. In america, pharmaceutical companies are expected to provide around 200 million flu vaccines this year, about 20 percent more than normal.

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