Countries that do not have enough influenza vaccine doses should set priorities for health workers and older people, according to a new WHO guidance.
The UN health agency’s top immunisation officer, Ann Moen, said this at a news conference in Geneva.
Moen said that demand for influenza shots had risen as countries are seeking to prevent this disease to keep hospital beds free for COVID-19 patients.
Health authorities were not able to estimate their influenza vaccine needs correctly in advance because orders had to be made at least nine months before the start of the flu season – before the COVID-19 pandemic started.
However, Moen had positive news from the southern hemisphere, where far fewer people have been infected with influenza than in previous years.
Less than one per cent of flu tests were positive during the season that has just ended in the South, Moen said, compared to the usual rates between 10 and 30 per cent.
Influenza and COVID-19 symptoms can be similar, and only a laboratory test can tell the difference.
However, Moen said losing one’s sense of smell and taste is an indication of the novel coronavirus, in addition to fever and cold symptoms.