Chinese cities offer early flu shots
Global Times

Chinese cities including Beijing and Wuhan, Central China's Hubei Province, will be offering flu shots early this year based on new national guidelines from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), with an aim to meet increasing demand amid the dual risks of the seasonal flu and COVID-19.


A child receives treatment at Beijing Children's Hospital in Beijing, capital of China, Jan. 10, 2018. (Photo: Xinhua)

This year's guideline for influenza vaccination was released one month earlier than that for last year, an effort to reduce the risk of dual infection of the seasonal flu and COVID-19. The China CDC warned that the upcoming autumn and winter seasons mean higher incidences of respiratory diseases.

In response to the national guidelines, Beijing is rolling out it  flu vaccination program on Monday to increase the injection rate.

The capital seeks to achieve a 20-percent increase in flu shots compared with 2019, and a 50-percent vaccination rate among primary and middle school students, according to the vaccination guide issued by the Beijing Municipal Health Commission and Education Commission. 

The city is targeting certain groups for free vaccinations, such as — 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.

Local residents can book flu vaccinations as early as late September, according to the program.

Wuhan, the hardest-hit city in the coronavirus epidemic, is also getting a head start on flu shots. The Global Times learned that several community hospitals are already offering vaccinations for children under the age of 3. 

One community hospital told the Global Times that it already has flu vaccines in stock, and others said they will be fully prepared in the coming days. 

Other major cities with dense populations, such as East China's Shanghai and Shenzhen, South China's Guangdong Province, are now taking early bookings for flu injections, the Global Times learned on Tuesday. 

The earlier arrangements for this year's flu shot took into consideration the high incidences of both the flu and COVID-19 in autumn and winter, as it is easier for viruses to survive and spread among people when  temperatures are lower, Wu Guizhen, chief expert of biosafety at the China CDC told the CCTV News on Tuesday.

Symptoms in the earlier stages of the coronavirus, including cough and fever, are similar to those of influenza, making it difficult to distinguish between the two diseases, said Wu, who suggested that the public take flu shots to help prevent co-infection.

Wu also assured the public that China has enough flu vaccines to cover those who want it, and all of the vaccine types are recommended by the World Health Organization. 

China is expanding the supply of flu vaccines this year to meet expected increasing demand. More than 15 million doses of the seasonal flu vaccine have been approved for market this year, but experts expect 50 million doses, double the number in 2019, to be approved, the Beijing News reported.