Only priority group will be give flu vaccine this year

The Ministry of Health (MoH) will provide the flu shot to all the high-risk groups consisting of elderly citizens over the age of 65, children between 6 to 24 months of age, those who developed pneumonia and have a higher risk of dying, medical and health professionals, people with chronic medical conditions and pregnant women.

Health Minister Dasho Dechen Wangmo said this time the ministry is doing it as per the protocol. The flu vaccine will be given only to vulnerable groups, unlike last year.

“The purpose of rolling out flu vaccine for all then was because the country did not have COVID-19 vaccine because COVID-19 and ordinary flu symptoms are quite similar, and so, the flu vaccine can eliminate such confusion but now with population vaccinated, we are fairly confident that people will not have COVID-19,” the Health Minister said.

A member of National Immunization Technical Advisory Group, Dr Sonam Wangchuk, said high-risks groups will keep on getting flu vaccines like in the past.

There is not much influenza as per the surveillance because of the interventions that are taken for COVID-19.

Dr Sonam Wangchuk said last year flu vaccine was given because they were worried that in case at the same time if there is a COVID-19 outbreak and influenza outbreak then hospital infrastructure will be over-loaded and a lot of hospitalization could happen and the double disease burden of hospitalization will be there.

According to the influenza surveillance conducted by Royal Centre for Disease Control (RCDC), Bhutan has two flu seasons. Winter season starts from December to March, and monsoon season starts from July to September.

A total of 74,027 high risk or vulnerable people were vaccinated last year along with the whole population.

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