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The importance of vaccinating the elderly against the flu

In the 2020-2021 season, we have found a flat line in the incidence of influenza, due to the widespread belief that protecting against it made us more resistant to covid-19. “Given the perception of risk, vaccination coverage increases, especially among the older population”, as highlighted in the report Influenza 2021: the value of influenza vaccines with increased immunogenicity in people over 65 years of age in the environment of covid-19.

According to the preliminary data collected in this document, more than 65% of patients over 65 years of age have been vaccinated, which represents an increase of more than ten points compared to the previous campaign. Despite this, the minimum target of 75% set by the Ministry of Health for this season has not been reached. What’s more, Vaccines against covid-19, with effectiveness that do not drop below 70%, are setting the bar very high and eclipsing those of influenza, which have a moderate efficacy – between 40% and 60%, according to a meta-analysis conducted in US primary care. The experts who signed this study want to make it clear that they are different viruses and the incidence of flu is worrying enough that we continue to take steps to immunize ourselves against it.

With this objective, what better way than to direct them to the most vulnerable groups and those most at risk of suffering from a serious flu. Along these lines, the Communities have been evaluating immunogenicity in older people for years, that is, their ability to activate the immune system efficiently against a certain antigen.

Thus, the conclusion of the report is that “vaccinating the elderly is always a benefit in flu.” At the same time, remember that immunosenescenceIn other words, the deterioration experienced by the immune system with age affects 20% of the population, so it is necessary to promote the use of vaccines with increased immunogenicity so that the elderly have a better coverage rate.

This preventive anti-flu treatment is essential due to its undoubted impact on the burden of the disease: it achieves reduce hospitalizations and deaths. But also get a economic savings. And it is that if some 27,700 hospital assistances, which are equivalent to seven days of stay, are multiplied by the cost of 500 or 600 euros a day, we are talking about large sums for the health system; specifically, more than 100 million euros.

Problems that the flu can cause

There are people who, when contracting the flu, can develop complications, some serious or life-threatening. These are the most prominent: bronchitis, ear infection, sinusitis, pneumonia, myocarditis (inflammation of the heart), encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) and inflammation of the muscle tissues.

It can also happen that the flu aggravates chronic diseases, such as asthma.

All this gives an idea of ​​the problems that the flu can bring.

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