Junta's call to vaccinate children under five against flu: this year's strain is stronger and has arrived early

The regional Minister for Health, Catalina García, also stressed the importance of over-65s and people with chronic health conditions being vaccinated

Ángel Escalera

The Junta de Andalucía is calling on parents to vaccinate their children aged between six months and four years 11 months against flu. The regional Minister for Health, Catalina García, said flu has arrived early this year and the strain is a powerful one. The health authorities are bracing for ten times more cases than in 2019, and the peak is expected in three weeks’ time. So far, only 16.4% of children under the age of five have been given the flu vaccine in Andalucía.

García spoke of the flu campaign at a conference organised by Bidafarma and SUR at the Barceló hotel in Malaga, and said the Health and Education ministries are working together to encourage parents to have their children vaccinated. She also asked Antonio Mingorance, the president of the Andalusian College of Pharmacists, to ensure that pharmacies informed people of the need to vaccinate against flu. Health centres are giving afternoon appointments for the flu jabs at present, to make it easier for parents to take their children.

Catalina García took part in a conference organised by SUR and Bidafarma. / salvador salas

Over-65s and chronic patients, too

García also stressed the importance of over-65s and people with chronic health conditions being vaccinated. So far 53.6% of people in that age group have had a flu jab. Last year the total was 72.3% and the health authorities aim to improve on that figure this autumn.

“Prevention is better than a cure. The flu virus is stronger this year and has arrived earlier than normal. It looks as though we are in for a difficult situation,” she said, explaining that there are fears of an increase in respiratory infections with a combination of Covid-19 and flu.

Catalina García also advised people over the age of 60 to have their fourth coronavirus vaccine. “If we all do it, we will not only be protecting ourselves but others as well. The Covid vaccine has saved our lives," she said. She also recommended that those aged between 60 and 71 have the pneumonia vaccine.