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WHO stresses vaccines as flu season ramps up, COVID lurks

Vaccination continues to be one of the most effective tools in combating both influenza and COVID-19, and the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for Europe urges all those eligible to get their influenza and COVID-19 booster shots as soon as possible, according to Xinhua report on Monday.
“With COVID-19 and seasonal influenza co-circulating, the health of vulnerable people — including the elderly, the immunocompromised, pregnant women and newborns — is at greater risk,” said WHO Regional Director Dr. Hans Kluge said at a press conference here on Monday.
Since early September, regional cases of COVID-19 have tripled, according to WHO Europe, and in the second week of October, the European Region accounted for nearly 60 percent of new global cases and 42 percent of new global deaths.
“This is not a time to relax,” Kluge said. “In the past month, we have also seen an early spike in seasonal influenza cases, leading now to increased positivity in patients hospitalized with severe acute respiratory infections.”
However, according to Kluge, the surge has not led to either the previously seen levels of severe disease, as deaths and intensive care unit (ICU) admissions have only seen minor increases, or to the crippling effects previously seen on economic or social life.
“We must continue to do our utmost to prevent infections, protect the vulnerable and prepare our health systems to manage multiple threats,” he said.
On the occasion of World Polio Day (Oct. 24), which also marks twenty years of keeping the WHO European Region free of indigenous wild polio, Kluge noted a parallel since the region was declared polio-free in 2002.
“Vaccines are safe and vaccines work. For polio, as for COVID-19 and influenza, vaccines can and do save lives. The other main policy responses for COVID-19 are continued surveillance and securing access to antivirals for at-risk populations.”

Source: Lao News Agency