Flu shot reservations start earlier in Shanghai this year

Cai Wenjun
Shanghai hospitals have started reservations for flu shots and said this year's influenza season may come earlier than usual, urging vulnerable people to take the vaccine in time.
Cai Wenjun

Local hospitals have started reservations for flu shots and said this year's influenza season may come earlier than usual, while urging vulnerable people like the elderly, children and those with weak immunity to receive the vaccination in time.

Usually, the reservation starts in late August and vaccination is given in September and October. Hospital officials said the earlier reservation this year is due to the recent prevalence of flu in some southern Chinese provinces and the influence of COVID-19, as flu patients may have symptoms similar to coronavirus infection and cause a run on hospitals.

An official from Shanghai Yida Hospital said the hospital started reservations last week and the first batch of flu vaccine is expected to arrive next month.

The Shanghai Center for Disease Control and Prevention noted that flu vaccination hasn't yet started in the city and it will provide more information when vaccines arrive in the city.

Wu Jinglei, director of the Shanghai Health Commission, said in a radio interview last week that the current flu prevalence in the city is stable and in line with previous years.

According to the Chinese National Influenza Center, some provinces like Guangdong, Fujian and Jiangxi entered the peak flu season in June, with the number of flu patients visiting outpatient departments continuing to rise.

Guangdong reported four deaths due to flu in June and has tried to raise public awareness about the combined risk of COVID-19 and flu.

Some regions have launched flu vaccination earlier than usual.

The Shenyang Center of Disease Control and Prevention in Liaoning Province announced on Wednesday that all three northeastern provinces of Liaoning, Jilin and Heilongjiang will kick off flu vaccination earlier this year. The first batch of vaccine has arrived in Shenyang and local residents can go to neighborhood health centers for reservation and vaccination.

Though the flu prevalence is stable in Shanghai, local hospitals said they have already received patients.

"Flu is something for the winter, but it seems like this year things are slightly different. It may be important to prevent yourself from getting the flu earlier than you normally do," said Dr Sarai Nietvelt from Shanghai United Family Hospital. "We are starting to see flu (patients) in the emergency department. The flu vaccine has been ordered and will very soon be available in the hospital."

Medical experts stressed the importance of vaccination for the elderly, saying infectious diseases are a big threat to old people's health.

"Common infectious diseases include flu, shingles and pneumonia," Dr Fang Ningyuan from Renji Hospital told an online event during the recent national elderly people's health education week.

"Such infectious diseases have a high incidence and high mortality among the elderly, seriously impacting their life quality and imposing heavy financial burden. Vaccination is the most effective and economic measure to prevent infection," Fang pointed out.

"The National Health Commission issued a guidance in 2019, suggesting that the elderly undergo shingles and pneumonia vaccination regularly and take the flu shot before the flu season under the guidance of doctors."

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