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Although it is free and mandatory, 1 in 5 children under the age of 2 do not receive the flu vaccine


According to official preliminary data from the Directorate of Immunoprovocative Disease Control (DICEI) of the Ministry of Health and Social Development of the Nation for the year 2018, one in five children under two years of age did not receive the influenza vaccine, and of which they started the free and compulsory vaccination scheme, almost four of the 10 (36.7%) did not receive the second dose. The low level of immunization coverage raises concerns at the Argentine Pediatric Society (SAP), which urged the community to protect children from the flu, a disease that can cause serious complications and even death in this age group.

The current National Immunization Program includes all children between 6 and 24 months, those over 65 and between 2 and 64, all those who have a chronic underlying disease that increases the risk of complications to influenza, such as respiratory, cardiac, renal, diabetes, obesity, congenital or acquired immunodeficiencies, oncohematologic patients and transplanted patients, among others. It also covers pregnant women (regardless of the month of pregnancy) and all health personnel.

Surprisingly, another figure well below the expected coverage was that of vaccination in pregnant women (Only one dose corresponds to any month of gestation): only 64.6% were immunized; This means that more than three out of ten pregnant women were not protected from the severe forms of the disease during pregnancy.

From the SAP, they emphasized the importance of applying the influenza vaccine to all at-risk groups, but gave special emphasis to children between 6 and 24 months and pregnant women to protect the fetus. "Young children make up a group vulnerable to this disease and the indication of the vaccine is included in the National Immunization Program, which makes it free and mandatory." There are two separate applications of one month, except for those who received the vaccine in the previous year, for which a single dose will suffice. Vaccination is done in all hospitals and health centers"said infectious pediatrician Elizabeth Bodganowicz, secretary of the Infectious Diseases Committee at SAP.

"Ideally, the child should receive the vaccine before the first cold arrives, usually with the beginning of autumnin order to have the immunization and be protected with the two doses when the low temperatures arrive. Influenza is a very contagious respiratory disease that usually recovers within one to two weeks without the need for specific treatment, explained Bogdganowicz. However, those in risk groups, such as the youngest or people over 65 (both extremes of life with less efficient immune systems) or who have a preexisting disease, may have complications compared to this disease. condition, arriving in some cases requiring hospitalization and presenting a risk of death. "

And after adding that "it is important to note that the circulation of influenza virus is very prolonged, so vaccination against influenza should not be restricted only to the months of autumn and winter," he noted, in vaccination against influenza. Indicate at any time of year, also those living with premature or immunocompromised children should be vaccinated. "

"Because their inclusion in the national calendar is relatively new, many parents are unaware of the mandatory or vaccine-free nature of the vaccine and do not apply it to their children, leaving them unprotected to them as other children, since non-vaccination favors increased circulation of the virus. We strongly recommend consulting the pediatrician, especially with children younger than 24 months or older, but with a chronic illness"said SAP president Stella Maris Gil.

The only cases that require a medical prescription proving your condition to receive vaccination free of charge at any hospital or health center are those over 24 months and up to 64 years of age who have an associated illness.

The main symptoms of the flu are high fever (39 ° or higher), headache and generalized pain, decay, tiredness, cough and sore throat, nasal congestion, diarrhea and vomiting. Among the factors that distinguish it from a flu picture are high fever and the fact that it usually lasts one to two weeks, while flu-like symptoms usually improve after two or three days.

Other childhood vaccines to take into account

On the other hand, SAP stressed the importance of meeting the vaccination schedule so that children are protected against the various diseases for which vaccines are available. When children go to school, that is, between the ages of 5 and 6, they must receive the second strengthening the polio vaccine (orally), the second dose of the triple viral vaccine, which protects against measles, rubella and mumps, and second reinforcement of the triple bacterial cell vaccineagainst diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (whooping cough). Children aged 11 years should receive the vaccine triple acellular bacterial vaccine, hepatitis B (for those who do not have the complete scheme), complete scheme of the viral triple vaccine, two doses of the human papillomavirus vaccine, in both boys and girls, and Meningococcal vaccine (dose only). Although the delivery of the latter vaccine is delayed by the health authority until further notice. All these vaccines are administered free of charge and can be applied on the same day, with the sole exception that they should be placed on different parts of the body.

"It is imperative that all children receive these vaccines because they prevent the different diseases and allow us to continue working towards the elimination of diseases such as measles, rubella and poliomyelitis, as well as maintaining other controlled ones, such as tetanus and diphtheria," Bogdanowicz said. .

The importance of timely completion of the vaccination schedule is the immune system acquires lasting memory and provides protection during adolescence and even into adulthood against preventable diseases. In addition, immunized persons stop or significantly reduce the circulation of viruses and bacteria.

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