Today, Monday, October 25, the Spanish Ministry of Health launched this year's Flu campaign with the slogan "I get vaccinated. This year I also make a difference".
The flu campaign, which begins in all of the communities between the second half of October and the first week of November and will last for several weeks. It was agreed by the Public Health Commission on October 5 and places special emphasis on the need to protect the people who are part of the target groups and to also contribute to help reduce the impact on care pressure.
The Ministry says that the intentions of the campaign, which are in line with the provisions of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the European Commission, are to exceed or at least achieve the vaccination of 75 per cent of the population aged 65 and above, plus personnel working within the health and social health sectors. The plan is also to exceed the 60 per cent benchmark of pregnant women and people who are at risk.
The Health Ministry emphasises that it is imperative that the "vulnerable population and their contacts" get vaccinated against the flu virus.
With the loosening of hygiene measures against Covid-19, it is more likely that “both pathologies can coexist and the complications will be increased in risk groups for which both diseases may be especially harmful”.
It is important to remember that the symptoms and the manner in which Covid-19 transmits is extremely similar to Influenza.
Last year, due to isolation and mask-wearing, there was hardly any transmission of the Flu virus, however, with many restrictions now lifted it is particularly important this year that the Flu vaccination is administered to help prevent the spread of the virus and its possible complications.
The Health Ministry states that "Furthermore, the synergistic effect observed between the influenza virus and SARS-CoV-2 multiplies the risk of death in case of coinfection by two."
So how can you tell the difference between Flu and Covid-19 symptoms?
The new coronavirus, known as ‘Covid-19’ and the Influenza virus manifest in similar ways, with both sharing routes of transmission and causing respiratory diseases.
There are a wide range of symptoms from asymptomatic or mild symptoms, to severe illness or even death.
A cough, fever and loss of smell are common symptoms in both Flu and Covid-19. However, headache, fatigue, sore throat and muscle pain appear more with the Flu virus than with Covid but respiratory distress appears to be more prevalent with Covid.
According to the Ministry of Health “The proportion of patients with severe symptoms in the case of the new coronavirus is 15% which require oxygen, and 5% are critical infections, requiring ventilation”. Percentages of severe infection that appear higher than those observed in the case of the Flu infection.
The Ministry of Health has prepared a question and answer document for the general public to help clarify the differences between the symptoms of Flu and those of Covid-19.
The document also states that “since the symptoms of the flu, COVID-19 and other catarrhal conditions are similar, it is important to consult with the health professional and follow their advice”.
In regards to vaccinations for both Covid and Influenza, the Public Health Commission that was held on Friday, October 15, agreed that both vaccines can be administered at the same time but "preferably done on a different limb”, according to existing scientific evidence.
Image Credit: Ministerio de Sanidad