Statement by Commissioner Kyriakides on EU Flu Awareness Week

Ahead of Flu Awareness Week from 18 to 22 October 2021, Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, made the following statement: “As we move from autumn to winter, a time of the year where respiratory illnesses become more present, including seasonal influenza and of course COVID-19, we need to take action and ensure our health systems do not become overburdened. Even without the pandemic, up to 40,000 people in the EU lose their lives each year due to influenza-related causes. I strongly encourage everyone to take seasonal influenza seriously and to get vaccinated against it. With the pandemic as a backdrop, flu vaccination is even more important and necessary than ever. Those at risk of COVID-19 are also those most vulnerable for the flu: healthcare workers, individuals with specific chronic medical conditions, older adults and pregnant women. We have all learned how important and lifesaving vaccination against COVID-19 is: it prevents severe disease, most hospitalisations and deaths. This year, we must increase flu vaccination rates and close the remaining COVID-19 vaccination gaps to ensure that our most vulnerable populations are protected. With the circulation of both viruses, we must prevent what could potentially become a ‘twindemic’ of COVID-19 and flu. Now is the time to start making flu vaccine appointments!

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