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Proactive efforts against influenza are crucial for the elderly and at-risk groups.

Proactive efforts against influenza are crucial for the elderly and at-risk groups.

Flu season is quickly approaching, and it is time for the Halland region to begin the important work of flu vaccination, especially for the elderly and other at-risk groups who are the first to receive protection. During the previous influenza season, approximately 63% of the population over 65 years of age in Sweden was vaccinated. In the Halland region, the vaccination coverage rate reached 67 percent, a deterioration compared to the previous year.

Influenza is a highly contagious viral disease that, in addition to causing fever, headache, muscle aches, cough and sore eyes, can lead to serious side effects. There are clear links between influenza and serious complications such as heart attack, stroke, and general deterioration in terms of health.

Those of us over the age of 65 have an increased risk of suffering from complications and therefore protection in the form of vaccination is recommended. For healthcare, it is important to invite people who are particularly at risk of infection to health conversations and proactively inform them about influenza and the possibility of protection. A simple measure can also be to indicate the possibility of vaccination when the patient is already under care for other reasons.

The Public Health Authority (2021) believes that the standard influenza vaccine does not provide sufficient protection for the groups most at risk. Therefore, booster influenza vaccine is offered to those living in private residences and in certain areas within home care. Today, a vaccine containing a standard dose combined with a booster dose (so-called adjuvanted vaccine) has been purchased for these individuals, a vaccine that, according to the NHS, has not been shown to provide better protection for older people than the standard dose.

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In Germany, since 2021, a high dose of influenza vaccine is recommended for all people over 60 years of age because the high dose vaccine has proven better protection compared to the standard dose. Today, an individual can pay for the high-dose vaccine at private vaccination centers, but hopefully Sweden and individual regions will make decisions in the future that protect the most vulnerable individuals and provide better protection against influenza.

In order for us to achieve the WHO target of 75 percent influenza vaccination coverage, it is important that all regions help Sweden increase the influenza vaccination coverage rate through proactive activity and by adequately protecting us older people. We therefore urge decision-makers in the Halland region to give the region’s elderly and other at-risk groups access to the vaccine that provides the best possible protection against influenza. In this way, vaccination does not become a financial issue for the individual, but rather a step towards equality of care.

Asa Lindstam

President of the National Association of Retirees