Flu shots in for the winter

With cooler weather expected to reach the country soon, health officials announced yesterday that an adequate number of flu vaccinations have been ordered to meet demand this coming winter, but stressed that the medicine should only be used by those who are most vulnerable to illness. The president of the National Pharmaceutical Organization (EOF), Dimitris Vagionas, told Kathimerini that 1.72 million anti-flu injections have been ordered and will have arrived in Greece by October 15. «This quantity is more than enough to cover the needs of the country,» he said. «The number is 100,000 fewer than those ordered last year when everyone rushed out to get the injection due to fears of bird flu,» Vagionas added. After news that the bird flu virus had been detected in Turkey and in some parts of Greece last winter, demand for the vaccination skyrocketed. Experts, however, warned that the injection should only be taken by those in the high-risk group, such as people over the age of 65 and those with a history of heart or breathing problems. «Pharmacists should be more careful about whom they sell the medicine to,» Vagionas explained. The Health Ministry has sent a circular to pharmacies instructing them to sell the drug only to those who have a medical prescription. Deputy Health Minister Thanassis Yiannopoulos said yesterday that random checks will be carried out on pharmacies to determine whether the circular is being adhered to. Pharmacists protested against the measure by arguing that on many occasions it is difficult for an elderly citizen to obtain a doctor’s note. According to doctors, colds and flus in Greece are more common from December through to April. Medical experts recommend that the injection be taken around October or November, given that it takes about four weeks to take affect.

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