Beijing plans more, earlier flu shots to fend off COVID-19 cross-contraction
Global Times

File Photo: Xinhua

Beijing is rolling out this year's influenza vaccination program early in a bid to increase the injection rate across the city. Experts say that the move seeks to reduce the risk of people contracting the flu and COVID-19 simultaneously, which both see high incidences in fall and winter.

Beijing's program seeks to achieve a 20 percent increase in flu shot injections compared with last year, and a 50 percent vaccination rate among local primary and middle school students, according to the influenza vaccination guide issued by the Beijing Municipal Health Commission and Education Commission, The Beijing News reported on Monday.

It also specifies the population whom the city is targeting to provide vaccination for free, which will be carried out in three time slots from early October to November, covering all middle and primary school students, people aged above 60, and personnel from the emergency response system, including medical staff working at the frontline of coronavirus prevention and control.

The earlier arrangements for this year's flu shot took into consideration the high incidences of both the flu and COVID-19 in fall and winter, as it is easier for the virus to survive and spread among people in lower temperatures, Wu Guizhen, Chief Expert of Biosafety at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, told CCTV News on Tuesday.

Symptoms in the earlier stages of the coronavirus, including cough and fever, are similar to those of influenza, which makes it difficult to identify, said Wu, who suggested that the public take flu shots to also help prevent confusion with COVID-19.

Wu also assured the public that Beijing has enough vaccine shots to cover more people who are inclined to receive them, and all of the vaccine types are recommended by the World Health Organization.