In order to avoid health collapses due to the pandemic, this year the flu vaccination campaign will be brought forward a few weeks, as the ministry has announced.
The flu is a respiratory infectious disease caused by a virus whose maximum incidence is observed in autumn and winter. This year will coexist with COVID-19, With which you share symptoms such as fever, cough, fatigue, or headache. For COVID-19, there is no vaccine yet. For the flu, yes and, according to the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization, it is the most effective measure to prevent this disease and its complications.
- Health advances the vaccination campaign at the beginning of October
- What does the coexistence of flu and COVID-19 mean?
- What people should get vaccinated?
- Symptoms shared between flu and COVID-19
- Loss of smell or taste, among the distinctive symptoms of COVID-19
- Consult your family doctor if you have symptoms and go to the emergency room if they are serious
- Maldita Clinic: Do you have questions about health-related issues?
Health advances the vaccination campaign at the beginning of October
The Minister of Health, Salvador Illa, has announced that in 2020 the flu vaccination campaign will take place earlier than in previous years. “Normally it started in late October or early November. This year we are going to do it during the first half of October, ideally the first week of October throughout the territory of our country ”, he stated.
What is the purpose of the vaccination campaign starting earlier this year? Health has taken this measure due to the possible coexistence of influenza with COVID-19 to protect the most vulnerable and try to prevent the saturation of the healthcare system, as stated in this agreement of the Interterritorial Council of the National Health System published on August 27.
Jorge Carrillo, a member of the Spanish Immunology Society and researcher at IrsiCaixa, confirms Damn science what The goal is for people to be protected against the flu as soon as possible to avoid the coincidence of this disease with COVID-19.
“Because both are respiratory infectious diseases with similar symptoms and similar risk groups, the coincidence of influenza and COVID-19 could be difficult to handle by the national health system “, indicates.
What does the coexistence of flu and COVID-19 mean?
The researcher tells that there could be sanitary collapses if the number of people affected by one or another disease grew a lot in a short period of time. And he insists on the importance of early vaccination: “For COVID-19 there is no vaccine available but there is one for the flu.”
Isabel Jimeno, head of vaccines for the Spanish Society of General and Family Physicians and director of the Isla de Oza Health Center in Madrid, tells Damn science that starting the vaccination campaign earlier can also allow the design of strategies aimed at increasing coverage, “Facilitating vaccination points and lengthening the campaign to avoid crowds”.
Where does a person have to go to get a flu shot? The Ministry of Health has explained to Damn science that this decision is the responsibility of the autonomous communities. “The strategy is still not clear,” Jimeno responds. In principle, according to account, the vaccination campaign would be carried out in health centers and residences: “We have to ensure that access is easy and safe, for example, with home visits or clean circuits (so that patients infected with coronavirus do not cross with the rest) in health centers.”
Which people should get vaccinated?
The flu campaign aims to protect people who have an increased risk of complications if you have the flu and those that can transmit the disease to others who are at high risk of complications, as stated in this document of the Interterritorial Council of the National Health System. In addition, the agency recommends vaccinating as well to those who provide essential services or may be exposed at work to avian or swine viruses.
Carrillo affirms that in order to avoid the coexistence of this disease with COVID-19 this year it is important to get a flu vaccine to as many people as possible. The Government has made an extraordinary purchase of 5.2 million doses that it will distribute to the communities. According to Illa, the objective is to achieve coverage of 75% in health personnel and those over 64 years of age and 60% in the case of pregnant women and people with risk conditions.
“For this campaign, given the uncertainty surrounding the behavior that the new SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus may present, a special emphasis is placed on increasing vaccination coverage against influenza, especially in the health and social health personnel, the elderly, preferably over 65, and people of any age with risk conditions”, Indicates the Interterritorial Council of the National Health System in this document.
Between the people under 65 that present a high risk of complications derived from influenza, are for example pregnant o infants older than six months or adults with chronic cardiovascular, neurological, or respiratory diseases, morbid obesity, or cancer. Here you can see the complete list of people targeted by the flu vaccination campaign.
Fever, Cough, Fatigue, or Headache: Symptoms Shared Between the Flu and COVID-19
The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains that both flu and COVID-19 are contagious respiratory diseases but are caused by different viruses. “COVID-19 is caused by the infection of a new coronavirus (called SARS-CoV-2) and the flu is caused by the infection of influenza viruses,” they point out.
Some symptoms of both diseases are similar. For example, the CDC mentions the fever, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, sore throat, stuffy nose, or muscle or headache pain.
These common symptoms, according to the CDC, make it possible to be “difficult ”to distinguish both diseases based on symptoms alone and a screening test may be needed to help confirm the diagnosis.
Loss of smell or taste, among the distinctive symptoms of COVID-19
Although some symptoms are similar, there are differences between the two diseases. For example, the CDC mentions the loss of smell or taste only in the case of COVID-19.
Jiménez also mentions the shortness of breath that comes on suddenly and suddenly that although it can also occur in the flu, in most cases the appearance “is not so sudden.” In Damn science, We have already explained to you what are the main differences between the symptoms of COVID-19 and the flu.
Although the range of symptoms is similar, the World Health Organization indicates that the chance of a serious infection is higher with COVID-19 than with the flu.
“For COVID-19, data to date suggest that 80% of infections are mild or asymptomatic, 15% are serious infections, requiring oxygen, and 5% are critical infections, requiring ventilation. These serious and critical infection rates would be higher than those observed for influenza infection“, Add.
Consult your family doctor if you have symptoms and go to the emergency room if they are serious
What should you do if you have any of these symptoms? Since it is difficult to distinguish flu from COVID-19, it is important to consult your family doctor to tell you how to proceed and what tests to take. Carrillo recommends making a telephone appointment and, if the symptoms are more severe, go to the emergency room.
Apart from getting vaccinated, the researcher advises following the same measures that are taken to avoid getting coronavirus: “Hand washing, social distancing, wearing masks or not going to work if you feel unwell”.