On Tuesday morning, four members of the Prince’s Government received their seasonal flu vaccinations, as the second phase of the immunisation campaign got underway.
The first phase was launched by the Prince’s Government on 15 October, with priority vaccination for residents of the Principality aged 65 and over. Today, the campaign was extended to cover all Monegasque nationals and residents.
With COVID-19 currently continuing to circulate at a high level, the Prince’s Government strongly recommends getting a flu vaccine. It is important to make every effort to limit as far as possible the compounding effects of the two viruses, which may be circulating at the same time.
In practical terms, everyone who resides in Monaco can obtain a free vaccine at one of the Principality’s chemist’s, by showing their Monegasque identity card or residence permit to prove to the healthcare professional that they do indeed live in Monaco. The vaccine can be administered immediately by the chemist, or the patient can choose to have it administered by their normal doctor or a private nurse.
The health authorities’ goal is to encourage many people as possible to get vaccinated. Consequently, this year the cost of the flu vaccine is being fully reimbursed for everyone who is covered by the Monegasque social security funds (State Medical Benefits Office (SPME) or Social Services Compensation Fund (CCSS)), whether or not they have a medical prescription.
Against the background of the coronavirus, there are many advantages to getting a flu vaccine :
- Flu vaccination makes it easier to treat patients presenting with a flu-like illness. Although they are caused by very different viruses, seasonal flu and COVID-19 produce identical symptoms: fever, cough, fatigue and muscle aches. Illness will be easier to diagnose if an infected person shows these symptoms but has been vaccinated against flu: healthcare staff will be able to identify potential COVID-19 more quickly and offer appropriate treatment, whether at home or in hospital.
- Flu vaccination eases the pressure on hospitals. Every year, patients suffering from flu visit the accident and emergency department, and some experience complications which require hospitalisation. Given the ongoing COVID-19 epidemic, hospital resources must remain available to deal with serious cases of the disease.
- Flu vaccination reduces the number of school and workplace absences. When a person shows symptoms consistent with COVID-19, they must stay off school or work while waiting for the result of their PCR test in order to reduce the risk of spreading the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Without a PCR test, it is clinically impossible to distinguish between flu and COVID-19. By eliminating flu, we can therefore reduce the number of school and work days lost.