★ Overall decline in influenza vaccination coverage in the context of influenza infections and hospitalizations

Influenza vaccination coverage in Spain is at its lowest level in the past four years. Experts say the multifactorial situation may be due to reduced risk perceptions in the population due to atypical spread of the virus in the post-pandemic winter, a possible decrease in the strength of flu vaccination recommendations and possible vaccine fatigue. After the normalization of the global health alert situation caused by COVID 19.

Professor Raúl Ortiz de Lejarazu Leonardo, Honorary Director and Scientific Advisor of the National Influenza Center in Valladolid (GISRS/WHO-WHO), who evaluated the final data of the handgrip dynamometer for 2023-2024, said: “It is necessary to convey the following message: Influenza vaccine “Influenza use is not designed to prevent mild or moderate cases that can be treated at home, but rather to prevent severe cases that can lead to hospitalization, admission to intensive care, mechanical ventilation or even death. “

He also pointed out, “We must take into account the paradigm of vaccines, which cannot guarantee 100% effectiveness, so it becomes more important to expand vaccination coverage to as many people as possible. The greater the proportion of the population that is vaccinated, the more likely the virus will be It would be less likely to cause severe or fatal cases throughout the community, and the burden on hospitals from influenza would be reduced, preventing other emergencies from affecting health care pathology.”

Coverage and analysis by group:

Population over 65 years old:

Vaccination rates for over-65s have fallen significantly in most autonomous regions, ranging from 1.1% to 8%, with Spain’s average estimate down 3 percentage points from last year. “This group requires greater vaccination coverage as they are the most vulnerable and include a high proportion of individuals with underlying conditions (cardiovascular, pulmonary, hypertension, diabetes, etc.). The result is severe disease , requiring the use of critical health services such as emergency rooms, hospitals and intensive care unit beds, often leading to prolonged hospitalizations that severely overload the health system.

Population aged 60 to 64:

Despite extending vaccination recommendations to people over 60 in all autonomous regions and recognizing this age group as a risk group, coverage in this group fell by 2.5% from the previous year. , ended at 34.7%. One of the key factors in understanding low coverage in this population is low awareness of the risks associated with influenza infection, which was also highlighted in the manometer data. “The decline in the proportion of vaccinations in this group is indicative of future trends for those over 65 years old, so it needs to be corrected as soon as possible.”

Population aged 18 to 59:

In this demographic group, which is mostly made up of working-age people, coverage fell the smallest, at 11.6%, just one-tenth less than the previous year. “This is because this is the group with the lowest vaccination rates historically. So when the percentages reflect the lowest vaccination levels, it is expected to increase rather than decrease.” “However, it is also critical to strengthen referral efforts for this group, This is because this group has the highest absolute numbers of people with conditions such as obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes and asthma, as well as people living with vulnerable groups.”

Population under 5 years old

This year is the first time that all autonomous regions will offer influenza vaccination to children aged 6 months to 5 years old. Galicia, Murcia and Andalucia were the pioneers in offering vaccinations to this group last season and are the teams with the best results this season, surpassing their own figures achieved in 2022-23. “The CCAA, which started last year, has better data than other institutions, which shows an optimistic message for the future, because when the experience (expertise) factor is examined in Galicia, Murcia and Andalusia, the three who were vaccinated last year Named CCAA, the proportion in other autonomous regions is likely to increase.” Children’s influenza vaccination not only directly protects children and prevents children from being hospitalized, but also plays a fundamental role in preventing the spread of the virus among other groups of people. Therefore, it is expected that “coverage will increase as the collateral benefits of childhood vaccinations become better understood.”

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