Concern grows as influenza patients crowd hospitals across China

China 24

Because of unusual virus strains, hospitals across China have been packed with flu patients since October, and there’s still more to come. It’s shed light on another concern for healthcare professionals: the low vaccination rate in the country.

CGTN’s Ren Xueqian reports.

It’s peak flu season in China. National health authorities say there are now more flu cases than any time this winter. The Beijing Children’s Hospital said it had 16 percent more patients December compared to the previous year.

“My son has been having IV treatment for seven days now and was burning with a fever for over two weeks,” a mother said. And making it worse, the fever was passed on to the entire family.

“The hospital has been very busy lately, and one time we had to wait all day until 10 pm to start the IV treatment,” another mother said, whose daughter has a fever and started coughing.

High fevers, coughs, headaches, fatigue, and body soreness are all symptoms of this year’s flu. Experts said such symptoms are not uncommon and can be contained with proper treatment. But what makes this year’s flu outbreak more severe than before is the level of cross infection in crowded areas.

A mixture of type A viruses which include H3N3 and H1N1, and type B Yamagata virus, are carried in this year’s flu. Type A viruses can be found in both humans and animals and they are generally responsible for larger flu epidemics, whereas type B viruses are found only in humans.

Officials said, though type B is not a new virus, it is the first time that it has affected the public on such a scale and the most effective way to prevent it is through vaccinations.

“The vaccination rate is low in China,” deputy director of Chinese Center for Disease Control, Feng Zijian said. “We supply some 26 million vaccinations each year to the public and not everyone gets them.”

Current vaccines can prevent three strains of viruses: H1N1, H3N2 and type B Victoria. Supplies of quadrivalent influenza vaccine, which will better target prevention of type B Yamagata, will likely be available this coming fall.

Zijian said after a regular vaccination period, there are still some 6 million vaccinations left. He said families are encouraged to get properly vaccinated before the flu season, especially the elderly, young children and women with children as they are most susceptible to infections.

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