Madrid (EFE) even more the rate, which in the last two years has been around 69%.
“It is not the same to have the flu as to be in the hospital,” summed up the president of the Spanish Association of Vaccination (AEV), Jaime Pérez, at the “II Conference on Influenza Vaccination” held in the Senate.
The experts gathered have wanted to dismantle certain myths such as that getting vaccinated prevents catching the flu: as has also been seen with covid-19, it does not prevent contagion, but it does prevent the severity of the disease and, with it, the collapse of the system.
According to the data that Pérez has revealed, in the 2017-2018 season, when 700,000 cases were registered, 52,000 hospitalizations, 3,000 ICU admissions and close to 15,000 deaths, the flu vaccine prevented 11% of mild cases in people over 64 years of age, 17% hospitalizations, and 39% deaths. And that with a rate of 55%.
In the next, with 54% coverage, there were 490,000 cases, 35,000 hospitalizations, 2,500 ICUs and 6,300 deaths, and thanks to the vaccine, 20% of mild cases, 11% of hospital admissions and 40% in care were avoided. intensive, as well as 38% of deaths.
A year later, in the 2019/2020 campaign, 619,000 cases, 27,700 hospitalizations, 1,800 ICUs and 3,900 deaths were recorded, but the drug prevented -with 53.6% coverage- 26% of hospitalizations, 40% of ICU admissions and 37% of deaths.
This in the general population, because in the population at risk there is scientific literature that estimates the prevention of heart attacks between 15-45% in patients with heart disease, a percentage similar to or higher than that of quitting smoking, the use of statins or antihypertensives.
The coincidence of the flu campaign with that of the covid in the last two years has allowed the rates to be increased to 66% and 69%, but the 75% set by the WHO is still far away, for which reason the experts have insisted on the need to increase them even more.
Do not trivialize the disease
Because the flu, stressed the general director of Public Health, Pilar Aparicio, “also causes the collapse of our emergencies” every year. “Vaccination against the flu involves not trivializing the disease,” she added.
Until the emergence of the coronavirus, scientists expected a major flu pandemic in the 21st century; It still cannot be ruled out, hence the need to maintain good coverage to prevent the virus from having an impact similar to that experienced these three years with SarS-CoV-2, has had an impact Ángel Gil, professor of Preventive Medicine and Public Health at the King Juan Carlos University.
All this without forgetting, he pointed out, the high economic cost of this disease: each flu admission costs 5,600 euros.
But this campaign has several handicaps against it, such as the fact that the population knows that the serum that is given each season is not the one for the virus that is circulating at that time, that it has to be administered annually or the high reluctance among health professionals.
“The perception of risk influences and that is why the fourth dose has decreased”, pointed out José Martínez Olmos, a professor at the Andalusian School of Public Health, who has opted to carry out an analysis of this perception at the beginning of each campaign in the general population and health workers to know where to act.