Tokyo/Seoul/Beijing, September 14
Some Asian international locations are rolling out early and extra aggressive influenza vaccination applications this yr, in search of to scale back the potential of individuals contracting the flu and COVID-19 concurrently, crippling healthcare programs.
With a second or third wave of the coronavirus pandemic looming for a lot of international locations, tackling this yr’s flu season — usually December by February — has taken on elevated urgency.
In Japan, the well being ministry is getting ready 31.2 million flu photographs, up 7% from final yr and the best quantity since 2015.
Officials are additionally urging symptomatic sufferers to name medical hotlines earlier than going for testing to keep away from contagion at hospitals.
“We are going to focus our medical resources on the severely ill in anticipation of the seasonal influenza epidemic,” Takeshi Enami, a Japanese well being ministry official mentioned final week after a gathering of illness specialists.
The World Health Organization has urged international widespread flu vaccinations this yr, amid issues the identical people who find themselves most weak to dangers from COVID-19, such because the aged and people with respiratory situations, are additionally at biggest danger for the flu.
Data on the variety of annual flu circumstances throughout Asia is restricted, though Japan had about 12 million circumstances within the 2018/19 season, in line with an official supply.
In South Korea, well being authorities are procuring 30 million flu vaccines for the winter season, up 20% from final yr.
Around 19 million individuals will likely be inoculated without spending a dime, masking a 3rd of the nation’s inhabitants, up from 13.Eight million a yr in the past.
Officials are additionally extending the demographic window without spending a dime vaccination, this yr masking kids from six months to 18, adults over 61 and pregnant ladies.
South Korea’s greatest flu vaccine maker GC Pharma advised Reuters it is going to make over 10 million flu photographs for this season, up from the 8.5 million doses final yr.
In Taiwan, the federal government mentioned it views the seasonal flu and the coronavirus as two separate issues as they’ll management COVID-19 with current strict guidelines, together with necessary quarantines. Officials mentioned late final month they deliberate to supply greater than six million free doses this yr.
In China, the place flu photographs are usually not free, some native authorities have reported a surge in demand. Disease prevention authorities within the Changning district of Shanghai metropolis advised native media they count on demand for flu vaccines within the autumn and winter to extend some 50% from earlier years.
In Australia, the place the flu season runs roughly from June to September, officers procured 16.5 million flu photographs, up from 13.2 million final yr.
The strikes in Asia echo comparable efforts in North America and Europe. In the United States, pharmaceutical companies are anticipated to supply round 200 million flu vaccines this yr, about 20% greater than standard.
(Reporting by Rocky Swift in Tokyo, Hyonhee Shin and Sangmi Cha in Seoul, Roxanne Liu in Beijing, Ben Blanchard in Taipei, and Jonathan Barrett in Sydney; Writing by Sayantani Ghosh in Singapore; enhancing by Jane Wardell)