Jaime Pérez: “About 28 children under five years old die from influenza every year in Spain”

Today, the 11th symposium of the Spanish Vaccinology Association (AEV) concluded in Palma.

What new features did you present at the 11th Symposium?

This year, several new vaccines and some prevention tools, such as monoclonal antibodies, have been authorized to protect children against respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), which causes bronchitis in infants.

What are the new vaccines?

Dengue vaccine, Spanish Covid vaccine, Shipra vaccine, two new vaccines for pneumococcal disease are approved this year and then all the calendar changes. That is to say, we have included meningococcal B vaccine, male human papillomavirus vaccine, and influenza vaccine for children aged 6 to 59 months into the vaccination plan… Fortunately, there has been considerable progress in this regard. Furthermore, they are already in use.

Will the new dengue vaccine be recommended for everyone traveling to countries with the disease?

As this vaccine has only been introduced recently, there is still no official recommendation, but it is clearly a situation that must be assessed. Because with any pathology of this type, whether it’s dengue or chikungunya, so far we’ve only looked at people who travel to endemic areas and get infected, and when they come back here there’s no problem. But now that the vector – the tiger mosquito – is found across Spain, the diseases are already having a local impact.

Local cases have emerged in the Balearic Islands…

Yes, and they are also difficult to identify because we are not used to the symptoms they present.

What message do you want to send to a post-pandemic society that is weary of vaccinations?

In fact, what we hate most are infectious diseases. In 2022, respiratory infections were the main cause of death, and the new coronavirus still caused more than 30,000 deaths this year. This is why we must be very clear that one of the best ways to improve our health is through vaccination.

Defending influenza vaccination in healthy children under 5 years of age.

Because of one’s own disease burden. People under the age of 14 are the group with the highest incidence of influenza and play a crucial role in driving the spread of the virus. In Spain, in three of the last seven pre-pandemic seasons, the incidence of hospitalization among those under 5 years old was higher than among those over 65 years old. Every year, 4,000 people are hospitalized, 800 of whom are seriously ill, and an average of 28 people die each year. During high influenza season, this number can reach 56 cases.

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