The vaccination against the flu and Covid-19 should start on September 29th, covered under the 2023 Autumn-Winter Seasonal Vaccination Campaign, and pharmacies will be able to administer two vaccines at once.

The president of the National Pharmacies Association (ANF), Ema Paulino, told Lusa that over 2100 pharmacies had signed up, but advised waiting for the deadline for the official list’s publication, as the number of participating pharmacies could reach 2200 and assure national coverage with at least one pharmacy in every municipality.

About the eligible population for the vaccines in pharmacies, Ema Paulino said that citizens over 60 years of age that hadn’t taken any other vaccines in at least 14 days, following the general guideline of the Directorship-General of Health which promotes the spacing between administering the covid-19 vaccines and others.

According to Ema Paulino, pharmacies are still making a pre-reserve of vaccines, with people already making their way to these establishments requesting to be vaccinated.

Pharmacies have already begun making appointments, as the scheduling platform is working, but they’ll only receive the vaccines on the week of the program’s start despite there being “a significant number of vaccines in the country, in central storage, to bring into the distribution circuit,” she added.

About how many vaccines pharmacies will receive, the ANF president revealed that, taking the population of over 60s into consideration and a coverage tax break, it’s estimated that between 1.7 to 2.3 million vaccines against Covid-20 and the same quantity in flu vaccines.

“It’s estimated the number of people below 60 years old could have reached 500 thousand for the flu and 500 thousand for the Covid victims,” he stated.

Ema Paulino added that pharmacies will be working in complement with the health centres which will vaccinate mostly those belonging to risk groups, to be defined by the Directorship-General of Health, which will emit technical guides to the vaccination process with criteria for eligible users.

“It’s a project which will be done in its entirety between the pharmacies and health centres to reach the entire population,” she declared.

Questioned about a study by the Ricardo Jorge National Health Institute (INSA), which concluded that those over 65 who opted to not be vaccinated against the flu in the 2020/2021 period explained their motives as being distrust towards the vaccine and the low susceptibility to the disease, Ema Paulino confirmed that, in this case, “the pharmacist has to assume their responsibility in contact with these people.”

“Normally they’re people with chronic illnesses and, as such, they head to pharmacies to access medication they need. The pharmacist should then proactively suggest vaccination and clear any doubts the person might have, combating vaccine hesitation,” she stated, emphasising how “very important the message that vaccination is fundamental for risk groups” is, and the proven efficacy of vaccines in the minimisation of risk of infection and, above all, the risk of complications.

“Despite being in a different phase in terms of the pandemic and Covid, the reality is that we’ve come to witness the increase in the number of cases in our country and in others. For this reason, the saying that it’s more worth preventing than treating is very important in this case,” Ema Paulino concluded.