“We don’t know what’s going to happen with this virus, but we need to be prepared.”
This is what Public Health Superintendent Charmaine Gauci said today with regards to the future of COVID-19 in Malta… and the possibility of making flu shots mandatory when summer ends.
“We’re preparing ourselves for an eventuality where this virus reappears as winter restarts,” Gauci said in response to a question on the potential resurgence of COVID-19 later this year.
“This is around the same time that influenza returns, right around October, when it peaks in January and goes down again by May.”
“We have a strategy that’s currently being prepared on the issue of seasonal influenza, and how we could mitigate the impact of these two viruses. COVID really taught us a lesson on prevention. Another advantage we have is that, with influenza, we do have a vaccine.”
“Every year, we make an emphasis for this vaccine to be taken by the most vulnerable; the elderly, people with chronic illnesses, and children younger than five years,” Gauci continued. “These are the people who should take it to help decrease seasonal influenza’s impact.”
“Once we arrive at a point where schools are reopened, measures will need to be taken. And at this point, we’re also evaluating the impacts, benefits and added value of having mandatory flu shots for certain groups.”
“One of the most important things is prevention,” Gauci elaborated. “The advantage we have is that COVID has really taught us a lesson on how to enact proper prevention; washing your hands, not sneezing in public, not going out next to other people if you’re sick. These are all measures which can help stop not only the spread of COVID, but also that of influenza.”
With an entire summer separating us from influenza’s seasonal return and Malta’s current COVID-19 situation being seemingly controlled with ease, it’s comforting to know that the health authorities have already started thinking of the next couple of phases.