Czech health minister: Now is the time to schedule Covid and flu jabs

The State Health Institute on Tuesday encouraged people in Czechia to get inoculated against both Covid-19 and influenza without delay. Staff ČTK

Written by StaffČTK Published on 04.10.2023 11:05:00 (updated on 04.10.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

As autumn and winter approach, the Czech Republic is gearing up to combat the annual surge in acute respiratory infections, with a focus on the co-occurrence of influenza and Covid-19, which poses a heightened risk to vulnerable populations, including the elderly and those with chronic illnesses.

At a press conference Tuesday, State Health Institute (SZÚ) director Barbora Macková and Health Minister Vlastimil Válek urged people in Czechia to get vaccinated for both illnesses now.

"Vaccination is one of the greatest successes of modern medicine and acts as a basic preventive tool in preventing complications, severe course of the disease and long-term consequences of the disease. The latest vaccines against influenza, Covid-19 and are in ample supply in the Czech Republic," Válek said.

Covid and flu vaccines: What you need to know

  • Experts recommend vaccines for pneumococcal and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), especially for seniors and say that distinguishing between RSV, flu, and Covid-19 can be challenging even for physicians.
  • The coronavirus vaccine is fully covered for all, while the flu vaccine is covered by insurance for those over 65 (insurers may cover flu for younger people as part of a preventative plan).
  • Patients can switch practitioners or visit vaccination centers if their doctor doesn't provide Covid-19 vaccination; at least one vaccination center with the latest vaccine is available in every region.
  • Experts suggest annual Covid-19 vaccinations, similar to the influenza vaccine. See a complete list of vaccination centers here.

Health Minister Válek emphasized the importance of vaccination as a crucial preventive measure to avert complications and severe illness, urging citizens to get vaccinated while also practicing preventive measures like social distancing and mask-wearing.

Macková noted a slight increase in respiratory cases compared to previous years, making the beginning of the respiratory season an ideal time for vaccination. Officials from the SZÚ confirmed that the flu vaccine can be administered alongside the Covid-19 vaccine on the same day, a recommendation supported by the Vaccinology Society.

The Czech Republic aims to address historically low flu vaccination rates by raising awareness about the severity of the flu, which affects hundreds of thousands of people and claims around 1,500 lives annually. Less than one in 10 people annually seek the flu vaccine in Czechia, and about a quarter of seniors.

Experts warn that people will need to get vaccinated against Covid-19 annually, similarly to the influenza vaccination. The new type of coronavirus is called Omicron XBB.1.5.

About two-thirds of the Czech population has been vaccinated against Covid-19 at least once, and one-third of Czechs have had a booster dose following a previous vaccination.

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