Warnings of a severe flu season – more people are encouraged to get vaccinated
The Norwegian Institute of Public Health is concerned: Over 12,000 people have been hospitalised in the past year due to the flu or Covid-19, but fewer are getting vaccinated.
Last year, flu vaccine coverage dropped from 63 to 59 per cent for high-risk groups, and from 56 to 50 per cent for healthcare workers, according to a NIPH press release (link in Norwegian).
After several years with relatively little seasonal flu activity, it came back in full force last season. 5,500 people were hospitalised from the start of October 2022 until now. Additionally, during the same time frame, 6,700 individuals were hospitalized due to Covid-19.
Young people are sloppy
“The high number of hospitalisations places a heavy burden on healthcare services and can have serious consequences for those who fall ill,” Trygve Ottersen says. He is the Executive Director of the Division for Infection Control at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH).
He especially notes that younger people with chronic illnesses are starting to get sloppy with their vaccinations, and encourages more people to take both the flu and Covid-19 vaccines.
NIPH does not yet know what the flu season will be like but warns of the possibility of a more intense season.
Could be an intense season
“We see that the influenza viruses have changed, and there is a high possibility that the H3N2 virus will make a comeback. We have reduced immunity to this particular virus because it has been a while since it has led to widespread outbreaks. As a result, there's a risk that more individuals, particularly the elderly, could become severely ill,” Ottersen says.
NIPH particularly encourages everyone over the age of 65, residents in care homes and nursing homes, pregnant women in the 2nd and 3rd trimesters, and people with a range of chronic diseases to get the flu vaccine and a booster dose against the coronavirus.
The Norwegian Directorate of Health states in a press release (link in Norwegian) that only 54 per cent of healthcare personnel plan to get vaccinated this year, down six percentage points compared to last year. They further warn that healthcare personnel are particularly vulnerable to contracting the flu, and the directorate emphasises that employers must provide an adequate and effective offer.
Translated by Alette Bjordal Gjellesvik