Health authorities are calling for all individuals to be vaccinated against seasonal flu and not to be deceived by its non-appearance last year.
Doctors can start filling prescriptions for free flu vaccinations from this Friday and experts advise people to get the jab four to six weeks before the annual flu epidemic period, that is mid- to late November.
Given that booster shots against Covid-19 are also available, the flu vaccine can be administered on the same day, in a different part of the arm.
A Health Ministry circular states that people who have tested positive for Covid-19 should be vaccinated against the flu as soon as they come out of quarantine.
The coinciding of the flu and Covid-19 viruses means that flu vaccination must be as close to universal as possible, the circular notes. “The goal is to reduce the probability of simultaneous illness from both viruses, which could adversely affect patients, and to keep the load on health services, especially intensive care units, as light as possible, so that they can cope with a likely rise in demand,” it says.
Maria Theodoridou, president of the National Vaccinations Committee, said that the low incidence of flu infections last year should not lead to complacency. “Natural immunity is lower precisely because the virus did not spread last year. We see that self-protective measures [against viruses] have slackened due to the [Covid] vaccination and flu viruses and their spread have become unpredictable. Let’s hope that the flu does not appear earlier this year, or in a more serious form,” she said.
The flu vaccination will only be administered if there is an online prescription and every shot will be entered into the National Vaccination Registry by the doctor or pharmacist who administers it.
Vaccination against the flu is especially recommended for those over 60 and/or suffering from cancer, diabetes, heart, kidney and liver problems and morbid obesity, as well as pregnant women.