The Secretary of State for Health Promotion, Margarida Tavares, has signed the order authorising free vaccination for all people aged 60 or over, as well as for other priority groups identified by the Directorate-General for Health (DGS).

The vaccination campaign starts in the second half of September and eligible people (whether over 60 or in other age groups) can be vaccinated simultaneously against Covid-19 and against seasonal flu.

“We want to protect people as much as possible next winter, increasing the scope of this free vaccine by almost 30%”, Margarida Tavares explained to Lusa.

According to a statement from the Ministry of Health, this measure “will guarantee greater equity in access (to vaccines), allowing to protect even more people”.

Margarida Tavares says that the final accounts for this new measure cannot yet be made, not least because purchases have not yet been completed, but she estimates the final cost to be between 20 to 25 million euros just for vaccines, not counting logistics costs.

“It is a very significant investment from all of us. (…) But it is a very valuable investment. It is a decision that is taken with great pleasure, due to the advantages it entails. Therefore, we call for a great mobilisation”, said the Secretary of State, recalling that this measure will also reduce the circulation of viruses and thus protect the National Health Service.

“Influenza is an acute viral illness of the respiratory tract, which can be particularly serious in elderly people or people with chronic illnesses”, warns the ministry.

The Ministry of Health recalls that last winter, Portugal once again exceeded the target of 75% of vaccination coverage against seasonal flu proposed by the World Health Organization (WHO).