THE Andalucian health service (SAS) is calling for people to be vaccinated against a possible outbreak of a virulent strain of flu in January.
The virus has already reached epidemic proportions in Cadiz and Huelva although in other provinces the number of cases are at ‘normal’ levels. But SAS expects this to change in January.
Health professionals, pregnant women, people over 65 years of age or people with multiple diseases, some of the population groups that should be vaccinated.
Healthcare professionals, pregnant women, people over 65 years of age are somke of the population that should be vaccinated.
The provincial health delegate, Carlos Bautista, said that the difference in the next few weeks between a person over 65 or with multiple illnesses who gets a vaccination and one who has not gone to the health centre to get this injection is “saving his life.”
To this end, he reiterated the importance of those over 65, pregnant women, patients with multiple diseases and health professionals, among others, getting a flu jab.
He said: “The winter is going to be hard, it has rained little, but sooner or later the cold is going to arrive and it will be abrupt and there is a possibility of a hard flu coming.”
With regard to the High Frequency Plan implemented by the Ministry of Health for the last three weeks throughout the region, visits to hospital emergency rooms in recent weeks have remained within normal values and have even decreased slightly in some provinces.
This is the case in Malaga, where there has been 0.68 per cent fewer flu cases. Cordoba is where attendance at emergency departments has fallen the most, with 3.13 per cent fewer
Even so, the flu is already being felt in some provinces and in Cadiz and Huelva the virus has reached epidemic proportions; a category that occurs when there are more than 40 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, and already registers figures of 83.5 cases and 77.5 per 100,000 inhabitants, in Cadiz and Huelva, respectively. At present, the average in Andalusia is 26 cases per 100,000 inhabitants.
Given this scenario, the Ministry of Health has increased its staff by 16 per cent to face the peak of maximum influx, which is expected to come into effect between the last week of December and the first week of January 2020. Although judging by the temperatures in much of the province of Malaga, it is unlikely that the flu will break out as an epidemic during the rest of the year.
A total of 1,122,749 vaccines have been given so far – 11 per cent more than last season – of which 694,082 have been given to people over 65.
When hospital emergency departments maintain a 10 per cent increase in attendance for five days in a row, SAS activates the High Frequency Plan and assesses the reinforcement of personnel, both in the emergency department and in the services that may be necessary, as well as the availability of admission points. This situation is repeated when the number of patients increases by 25 per cent and above.
For the coming weeks in which the arrival of influenza is expected, the SAS plans to have 2,617 professionals who will be distributed in health centres, hospitals and Emergencies departments. This is an increase with respect to the 2018-2019 season, which means an outlay of €7.7 million.