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Global Times

China strengthens flu vaccine deployment, braces for potential dual epidemics

Global Times

Source: Global Times Published: 2020/9/29 13:42:57

China will strengthen the deployment of flu vaccines nationwide and expand vaccination availability in preparation for the upcoming flu season as the country plans to carry out comprehensive prevention measures for both potential influenza and COVID-19 waves.

The National Health Commission (NHC) of China on Tuesday published a plan on the national flu prevention and control work in the upcoming winter and spring months, which requires authorities at all levels to step up their precaution measures for influenza as COVID-19 still poses a threat.

The plan requires health authorities to conduct a demanding assessment of influenza vaccines at local vaccination sites and strengthen the dynamic deployment of influenza vaccines based on the analysis of the procurement, supply and distribution of the vaccine in each location to ensure a balanced supply around the country.

The number of flu vaccine doses in 2020 is expected to double from 2019 to 50 million, and some cities in China, such as Beijing, have already launched a full-scale influenza vaccination program for local residents.

The NHC's plan also noted the cost of flu vaccinations for key populations, including medical personnel, children, the elderly and patients with chronic diseases, should be reduced so as to increase vaccination coverage among them. Some cities have announced they will provide free vaccination programs for the elderly and students.

Facing potential "dual infections" of both the flu and COVID-19, the NHC has regulated that fever clinics should strengthen their pretesting processes for patients with similar symptoms of both diseases and strictly carry out separate and targeted diagnosis and treatment for patients of each kind.

At a press conference on Tuesday, authorities called on people to be alert for influenza and the coronavirus during the upcoming national holiday period and take strict precaution measures, such as social distancing, wearing face masks and making appointments for scenic spot visits in advance during travel. According to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, China is expected to record 550 million domestic visits during the eight-day Mid-Autumn Festival and National Day holidays, starting on October 1.

Mi Feng, spokesperson of the NHC, said at the press conference that the COVID-19 epidemic is under control in China with no new confirmed or suspected cases for 44 consecutive days in the country; however, the risk of sporadic cases and occurrence of small-scale outbreaks still exists as imported cases continue to be found.

He noted that the government has started special inspections on COVID-19 prevention and control work in 17 provinces, mainly at schools and communities, ports and other places for food transportation and processing.

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