Bulgaria’s Health Ministry: Allow two weeks between flu and Covid-19 jabs

Influenza has not disappeared, but because of the pandemic, more research is currently being done on Covid-19, Bulgaria’s Health Ministry said on October 7.

The two viruses progress in similar ways, and in mild forms of Covid-19, there are virtually no differences with the flu, the ministry said on its Facebook page.

“Let’s not forget that there is also a flu vaccine. Experts recommend that the period between the flu vaccine and Covid-19 vaccine be about two weeks,” the ministry said.

It said that 230 000 Bulgarians aged 65 and over were eligible to be vaccinated against seasonal flu free of charge.

This year, those over the age of 65 will be able to receive immunisations from their GP after mid-October. The vaccines against Covid-19, with which Bulgaria conducts immunisation, are free even for the uninsured, the ministry said.

Bulgaria’s Chief State Health Inspector Angel Kunchev said on October 7 that the fourth wave of new coronavirus in Bulgaria was in full swing.

Quoted on the Health Ministry’s Facebook page, he said after a certain slowdown “which we hoped was a plateau, now we see that, although weaker, the growth is continuing”.

“Measures can always be tightened when necessary and justified, but that is quite painful. On the one hand, the long period has made people and the health care system very tired and nervous, on the other hand, many people are starting to ignore the danger and are less inclined to make sacrifices for the sake of others,” Kunchev said.

Noting that the percentage of people in Bulgaria who are hesitant or do not want to be vaccinated was high, he said: “I do not know if it is fear or succumbing to openly false information and manipulation, of which social networks are full”.

Kunchev said that issuing fake vaccination certificates was a crime.

If the person holding such a document is a carrier of the virus, it affects the health of everyone around him and becomes a threat to public health, he said.

In a separate statement, the Health Ministry quoted deputy minister Dr Alexander Zlatanov as saying: “We have taken steps to strengthen the control over the observance of the current anti-epidemic measures and we will count on the cooperation of the regional governors and the municipalities”.

It is extremely important at this time for the institutions to act in synchrony in order to limit the spread of Covid-19, Zlatanov said during a video conference with specialists in epidemiology and infectious diseases.

During the meeting, the current epidemic situation in Bulgaria was discussed, as well as the experts’ proposals to change the currently introduced measures to bring the Covid-19 infection under control, the Health Ministry said.

It said that there was an increase in registered cases in the 0-19 age group, as well as among residents of old age homes.

The specialists said that the high share of hidden morbidity in Bulgaria was the main problem. They said that efforts should be directed at the groups of the population that are most at risk of infection and transmission of the virus.

“Taking into account the situation, we must propose concrete feasible measures that will give results, but also not drastically limit socio-economic life. The goal is to control the development of the pandemic so as not to allow overloading the health system,” Zlatanov said.

Experts consider the low vaccination coverage in Bulgaria to be the main reason for the increased incidence of Covid-19. This in turn leads to an increase in hospitalised patients and deaths.

“Morbidity is growing throughout Eastern Europe and we are part of this common process. The question is what price we will pay and how to reduce the consequences, as Bulgaria is in one of the last places in terms of the number of immunisations,” Kunchev told the video conference, according to the Health Ministry statement.

The most recent update by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) showed that of Bulgaria’s population, 24.3 per cent had received one dose of vaccine against Covid-19, compared with an EU-EEA average of 79.9 per cent.

Of Bulgaria’s population, only 23.2 per cent had completed the vaccination cycle, while the EU-EEA average was 74.2 per cent, according to the ECDC.

(Photo: Military Medical Academy)

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