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Flu vaccine arrived to Lithuania – opportunities to get vaccinated for the flu and COVID-19 at the same time

Date

2022 09 22

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Lithuania received the entire batch of flu vaccine for the 2022-2023 flu season. The distribution of the vaccines to healthcare institutions that have ordered them will begin already this week. According to plan, the vaccines should reach them in 2-3 weeks. This is a convenient opportunity for all residents in risk groups to get free vaccinations for both the flu and COVID-19. Residents that do not belong to risk groups can get a flu vaccine and pay for it themselves.

Experts of the Ministry of Health (MH) and the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) urge the residents to get vaccinated against the most common infectious diseases without delay.

‘We hope that the opportunity to get both vaccines at the same time will increase the vaccination rates and make it easier for the residents to plan their visits to healthcare institutions. This opportunity is offered to risk groups and I’d like to encourage everyone that fall in this category to plan their vaccination visit and thus protect themselves and their nearest and dearest.’ says Audrius Ščeponavičius, Director of the MH Public Health Department.

During the same visit, residents are recommended to consult their physicians regarding vaccination against pneumococcal infection, as complications such as pneumonia or otitis media are usually caused by pneumococci following an influenza or other airborne viral infections.

‘Taking into account the epidemiological situation and preparing for the upcoming cold season, NHIF bought more than 201 thousand doses of quadrivalent influenza vaccine at a record-breaking early time of February. The cost of the purchase was a little more than 1.5 million Eur from the Compulsory Health Insurance Fund. Compared to last year, the price of a single dose decreased by as much as 13 per cent.’ says Lina Reinartienė, Head of the Centrally Procured Pharmaceuticals Division at NHIF.

The flu season usually starts in October and ends in May. Flu vaccinations were particularly relevant during the coronavirus pandemic, as getting both the flu and COVID-19 infection made treatment much more complicated, increasing the risk of severe complications, and thus resulting in an enormous workload on the healthcare sector, which may eventually become unbearable.

Vaccinations against COVID-19 are already available. During the first stage, the priority of vaccination with the second booster dose is given to residents that are over 60 years old, also persons with chronic diseases. Residents of other age groups may register for a vaccination as well and their vaccination will begin in October.

International organisations, Lithuanian physicians and epidemiologists have repeatedly emphasized that the seasonal flu vaccine is vital in order to protect the society from severe forms of flu, hospitalization, complications and death. This vaccine is particularly relevant for risk groups, where the flu is much more dangerous and could be even fatal.

Just like every year, the flu vaccine, purchased from the Compulsory Health Insurance Funds, will be offered to risk groups like 65-year-old seniors or older, pregnant women, residents of social care and nursing institutions, also persons with chronic diseases. Moreover, reimbursed vaccinations are also offered to health care workers.

Anyone in the risk groups wanting to get a vaccine should contact their general physician. They can get a vaccine for the flu, pneumococcal infection and COVID-19 in just one visit. If you decided to get vaccinated, it is recommended to consult your general physician or paediatrician.

Based on recommendations of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control and Lithuanian experts, adapted COVID-19 vaccines will only be used as booster doses. The first booster dose of the vaccine is available to all residents since age 12, second booster dose – anyone 18 years old and above, based on the vaccination intervals (see annexes).

People can also get their shots based on the initial scheme – Comirnaty and Spikevax vaccines are also effective in protecting from a severe form of COVID-19, hospitalisation and death.

NHIF experts reminded that vaccines for each new flu season are produced for the types of the flu virus that are expected to circulate by international experts and scientists. The production of the flu vaccine and its delivery to our country usually takes from 6 to 8 months. Preparing for the flu season of 2022-2023, healthcare institutions have listed their demand for the vaccine back at the end of 2021. According to the National Programme of Immunoprophylaxis 2019-2023, this, just like the previous season, will be equipped with a quadrivalent flu vaccine.

(Pexels photo)

Information from the NHIF and the Press Service of the Ministry of Health

The NHIF invites you:

Your questions are welcome by email [email protected] or phone: local (8 5) 232 2222, international +370 5 232 222