Vaccine fatigue impacting flu shots

Record numbers of 2020-22 unattainable but dropping compulsory prescription spurs uptake

Vaccine fatigue impacting flu shots

Despite the intensity of influenza this winter, the number of people getting flu vaccinations in Greece remains at disproportionately low levels, health authorities have noted.

Tellingly, according to estimates, 3 million citizens have received the flu vaccine, a number clearly lower than in 2020-2021.

The preponderance of flu cases remained high last week, albeit with a slight dip compared to the last week of 2022.

“This [winter], due to the good weather conditions and the Covid-19 vaccine fatigue, the interest in flu vaccines was initially reduced,” said Dionysis Eugenides, president of the Pharmaceutical Association of Thessaloniki, in comments to Kathimerini.

As he noted: “The administration of vaccines at pharmacies without a prescription has boosted influenza vaccinations, but it has not yet reached the level we had seen the year before last. There is interest, but I think it should have been greater.”

That option for over-the-counter flu vaccinations was provided by the Health Ministry on December 19.

Nonetheless, the number of people who have had the vaccine is still 25% lower than in the first period of the coronavirus pandemic, in 2020, when there were no coronavirus vaccines yet available, prompting large numbers of the population to get shots for the flu. 

Speaking to Kathimerini, the president of the Panhellenic Pharmaceutical Association, Apostolos Valtas, said that by midweek some 2,800,000 prescriptions for flu vaccines had been filled, while about 250,000 vaccines had been administered without a prescription at pharmacies.

Indicatively, by mid-December, when over-the-counter vaccinations had not yet been allowed for this season, 2.5 million prescriptions for the flu vaccine had been filled.

In 2020-2021 when a prescription was not mandatory, more than 4 million people had been vaccinated against influenza, of whom 3.5 million had been vaccinated with a doctor’s prescription. In the corresponding period last year, about 3.16 million prescriptions for the influenza vaccine had been filled.

Meanwhile, an increase in hospitalizations of patients with Covid-19 has been observed for a second consecutive week, while the XBB.1.5 Omicron subvariant known as Kraken has also been identified for the first time in Greece.

Subscribe to our Newsletters

Enter your information below to receive our weekly newsletters with the latest insights, opinion pieces and current events straight to your inbox.

By signing up you are agreeing to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.