Influenza. Portugal exceeds WHO vaccination target

Portugal has exceeded the 75% flu vaccination rate target proposed by the World Health Organization (WHO), according to data from the Vacinometer, which points to an 88.3% rate among the elderly 65 and over.

According to final data from the Vacinometer 2021/2022, the study that monitors the rate of vaccination against influenza, of the population included in this vaccination, 83.4% of people with chronic diseases and 64.4% of professionals will have been vaccinated. direct contact with patients.

The final data from the vacinometer, promoted by the Portuguese Society of Pulmonology (SPP) and the Portuguese Association of General and Family Medicine (APMGF), with the support of the biopharmaceutical company Sanofi Pasteur, also indicate that 53.3% of Portuguese have been vaccinated aged between 60 and 64 years and about 60.2% of pregnant women.

The results released today also indicate that the group of pregnant women “has seen a steady increase in vaccination coverage since their inclusion in the free vaccine availability scheme, during the 2020/2021 season”, when vaccination coverage increased to 53.6% (was 23.5% in 2019/2020).

Those responsible for Vacinómetro also highlight the growth of vaccination in the 60-64 age group, since the last phase of the study (December 14 to 20, 2021), with a value that has increased from around 38.7% to 53 . 3%, also coinciding with the inclusion of this group in the free vaccine on December 15, 2021.

Among people aged 65 or over, 8.5% will have been vaccinated for the first time, the same is true for 25.7% of cases in people aged 60 to 64, 8.1% of chronically ill and 10.5% of healthcare professionals.

“The final data for the 2021/2022 influenza season allow us to be satisfied that we have not only met (for the third consecutive year) but significantly exceeded the WHO target for vaccination coverage of people aged 65 years. and more, thus ensuring their protection against the flu and beyond the flu, since this infection increases the risk of acute myocardial infarction and stroke”, underlines Nuno Jacinto, president of the Portuguese Association of general and family medicine (APMGF), quoted in a press release.

In the same note, the official highlights the increase in vaccination among people with chronic diseases, “who constitute a group at risk for viral infections such as influenza, since they can see their chronic disease uncontrolled or exacerbated”, as well as in the group of health professionals in direct contact with patients, “something very important since always, but even more so during the Covid-19 pandemic”, he said.

Also quoted in a press release, the president of the Portuguese Pneumology Society (SPP), António Morais, described the values ​​reached in this flu season as “excellent”, highlighting “the marked decrease in the number of hospitalizations for flu”.

“They reveal that the additional effort of the Directorate General of Health and the Ministry of Health to expand vaccination coverage, as well as the coordination of joint vaccination against influenza and covid-19,” he said. declared.

The official argues that “learning for the next flu season” should be removed by now, considering that this will require “equal or greater vaccination coverage”, because “over the past two seasons, the registration of cases of influenza was residual due to the measures put in place to deal with the covid-19 pandemic, which allows us to envisage greater activity in the 2022/2023 season”.

In the two groups of chronic patients analyzed, 89% of people with diabetes will have been vaccinated, including 5% for the first time, and 84.2% of people with cardiovascular disease will also have received the flu vaccine, 10.7% for the first time. the weather.

Regarding the motivations for vaccination against influenza, the majority of the population included in the recommendations of the Directorate General of Health was vaccinated on the recommendation of a doctor – 66.9% of people aged 65 or over; 65.8% of the chronically ill; 43.7% of people between 60 and 64 years old and 63.7% of pregnant women.

The second most cited motivation is personal initiative, that of being protected, which concerns 26.5% of people aged 65 or over, 21.7% of chronically ill people, 39.6% of people aged 60 at age 64, 19.8% of pregnant women and 11.6% of health professionals.

The context of a work initiative motivated the vaccination of 82% of healthcare professionals.

This year’s vaccination campaign took place in descending order of age, through an SMS call for the simultaneous administration of the flu and covid-19 vaccine, or just for the flu vaccine (s ‘they were not eligible for covid-19), which, according to the promoters of Vacinómetro, “aligned with other initiatives, may have contributed to an increase in vaccination coverage and the prevention of complications beyond the flu”.

According to the recommendations of the General Directorate of Health, the flu vaccine can be administered throughout the autumn/winter, preferably until the end of the calendar year.

The DGS standard, updated last December, says influenza vaccination “is strongly recommended for priority groups,” which include people aged 65 and over, pregnant women, patients six months or older. more suffering from chronic pathologies or conditions such as diabetes, chronic illness. Obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cardiovascular disease, neuromuscular disease with impaired respiratory function, trisomy 21, and patients six months of age or older immunocompromised by pharmacological or pathological means.

On December 15, free vaccination of the population aged 60-64 was also included.

Vaccination also covers certain contexts defined by the DGS, such as residents of homes and accommodation and/or reception establishments, patients in continuous care, patients hospitalized with a pathology and/or chronic condition for which the vaccine is recommended and inmates in prison. in addition to health professionals and other care providers.

The Vacinometer, launched in 2009, makes it possible to monitor in real time the rate of influenza vaccination coverage in the priority groups recommended by the DGS.

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