Health Minister Valek Calls On Czechs To Get Vaccinated Against Flu and COVID-19

Mackova said there were now some 700 cases per 100,000 citizens. Credit: Freepik.

Prague, Oct 4 (CTK) – The season of respiratory diseases, including influenza and COVID-19, has started in the Czech Republic, State Health Institute (SZU) director Barbora Mackova said at a press conference yesterday, with Health Minister Vlastimil Valek (TOP 09) adding that now is the best time to get vaccinated.

Mackova said there were now some 700 cases per 100,000 citizens.

“Risk groups in particular should apply for vaccination, but it is available to all,” said Petr Sonka, chair of the Association of General Practitioners.

The elderly, as well as people with chronic diseases such as heart, lung or kidney disease, or obesity, are particularly at risk of a serious course of both flu and coronavirus, which can lead to hospitalisation or death.

Experts also recommend that seniors get vaccinated for pneumococcal or respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). Doctor Zuzana Blechova, from the Clinic of Infectious Diseases at the Prague-Bulovka university hospital, said at the press conference that to distinguish between RSV, flu and COVID is difficult even for an expert.

Rastislav Madar, Dean of the Medical Faculty of Ostrava University, said the recommendations are focused on seniors because their immune systems are weaker than those of younger people.

Sonka noted that the COVID vaccine is fully covered for everyone and the flu vaccine is covered for people over 65. “Younger people can have the vaccination paid by their health insurance company’s prevention fund,” he said.

If a GP does not vaccinate against COVID-19, the patient can go to another practitioner or make an appointment at a vaccination centre, Valek said. “There is currently at least one vaccination centre in every region where the latest vaccine is available,” said Deputy Health Minister Josef Pavlovic (Pirates).

The newest variant of COVID-19 is called Omicron XBB.1.5.

About two-thirds of the population has been vaccinated against COVID-19 at least once, and one-third of people have had a booster dose following a previous vaccination. Experts warn that people will have to get vaccinated against COVID-19 annually, similarly to the influenza vaccination. Less than one in ten people annually seek the flu vaccine in the Czech Republic, and about a quarter of seniors.

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