The Andalusian Regional Minister of Health and Consumer Affairs, Catalina García, visited this Monday the Nuestra Señora del Perpetuo Socorro Residential Centre, in the municipality of Santa Fe, Granada, on the occasion of the start of the flu vaccination campaign and Covid-19. He pointed out that the Andalusian Government has acquired 21.5% more flu vaccines for the 2022-2023 campaign than in the previous one, which means a total of 2.17 million doses.
This increase is mainly due to the most notable new feature of the 2022-2023 vaccination campaign, which is the inclusion for the first time of children aged between 6 months and 59 months, i.e. 4 years and 11 months, in the influenza vaccination. For this age range, around 300,000 doses will arrive, with the possibility of adding another 120,000 doses for the second phase of the campaign. There are approximately 281,000 children in this age group in Andalusia.
García emphasised the importance of children aged 6 to 59 months being vaccinated against the flu, an initiative backed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Paediatric Society, due to the significant burden of the disease in children, with hospitalisation figures very similar to those of our elders. In addition, children play an important role in the transmission of the virus.
Furthermore, the increase in the number of doses in this campaign is also due to the objective set by the Regional Ministry of Health and Consumer Affairs to reach 75% coverage in the over 65s, as demanded by the WHO. It should be noted that in the last campaign Andalusia came very close to this target. Specifically, 73.2%.
Health and Consumer Affairs has already acquired 2,050,000 doses against influenza, which can be extended to 2,170,000 for the second phase of the flu campaign. Of these doses, 1,766,562 were programmed to be sent to the centres last week for the first phase. The distribution by province was as follows: 136,909 in Almería, 220,872 in Cádiz, 181,266 in Córdoba, 227,592 in Granada, 105,397 in Huelva, 163,049 in Jaén, 336,497 in Málaga and 394,979 in Seville.
The flu and Covid-19 vaccination campaign began in Andalusia on Monday 3 October. Catalina García stressed that the fact of vaccinating against both pathologies at the same time responds both to the recommendation of Public Health, which made this request at the last Interterritorial Council held, and to the warnings of the experts in view of the early arrival of the flu, in view of the experience in the countries of the southern hemisphere in recent months.
Vaccines, effective and safe protection
Today, the flu vaccine and the second Covid booster dose will begin to be given to people in residential homes for the elderly and disability centres. The population over 80 years of age and the staff and trainees of health centres, social and health care centres, residential homes and disability centres will also receive the vaccine. Andalusia has 422,794 people over 80 years of age and a total of 633 homes for the elderly, 73 of which are located in Granada.
Infants between 6 and 59 months will start their flu vaccination on 17 October, as will people between 5 and 64 years of age with chronic pathologies, pregnant women, elderly dependents and their carers. People aged between 65 and 79 will also receive the flu and Covid vaccination on the same day.
Catalina García has encouraged the most vulnerable groups to get the flu vaccination and Covid-19, for which she has invited them to make an appointment through the Salud Responde application or by telephone, ClicSalud+ or at their health centre. In this regard, he assured that no ‘vaccinodromes’ are planned for this campaign as there is no urgent need for mass express vaccinations. He also highlighted the value of the 1,500 vaccination points, which are health centres throughout Andalusia. “We are capable of carrying out a campaign without any problems in two or three months,” he said.
“Andalusia is very aware that an effective and safe measure against Covid and flu is vaccination. I can only thank the health professionals for their efforts during these months and the Andalusians themselves for this exercise in maturity to protect themselves and the people around them,” he said, while asserting that they have the necessary nursing staff to carry out the campaign “in a timely manner”.
He also recommended vaccination for those who have not yet received a booster dose of Covid. In this line, he recalled that the vaccines against Covid that will be administered from now on will do so with the variants that are circulating in Andalusia and Spain at the moment, “so the protection is very high,” he added. On this point, he has been inclined to continue using the mask in areas with a large influx of people, as well as in public transport, in addition to continuing with the hygienic measures, such as hand washing.