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Medexpress debate

Influenza vaccination: an obstacle course for patients and providers

MedExpress Team

Iwona Schymalla

Published Dec. 14, 2023 09:00

Influenza vaccination: an obstacle course for patients and providers - Header image
Is it too late to urge Poles to get the flu vaccination? The patient's path to this vaccination is complicated. We will talk about all sorts of organizational barriers that make the level of implantation in Poland leave much to be desired.

The debate was attended by:

Prof. Joanna Chorostowska-Wynimko, head of the Department of Genetics and Clinical Pulmonology at the Institute of Tuberculosis and Lung Diseases, vice president of the European Lung Association, member of the scientific council of the National Infectious Diseases Program

Dr. Mikolaj Konstanty, Silesian Chamber of Pharmacy, member of the scientific council of the National Program for Combating Infectious Diseases

Dr. Aleksander Biesiada, plenipotentiary of the main board of the Polish Society of Family Medicine, a primary care physician

Are there queues at the POZ to get vaccinated against influenza?

Dr. Alexander Biesiada: I, unfortunately, do not observe such queues. Instead, we observe a lot of infectious illnesses within the respiratory tract, both in terms of patients with Covid-19, influenza or other conditions, including colds. The problem is the occurrence of these infections simultaneously. Infection season is when we should vaccinate patients. It is certainly not too late to get vaccinated and to encourage vaccination.

But the patient's road to vaccination is very bumpy. What does she look like at the moment?

Prof. Joanna Chorostowska-Wynimko: As a pulmonary specialist, I take care of patients at particular risk of severe respiratory viral infections, and I have to say that, unfortunately, access to vaccination for patients is not easy. First of all, due to the very high occupancy of primary care. For patients with chronic respiratory diseases, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, bronchial asthma, this kind of infection carries a much higher risk than in healthy people. They are also often older people, over 65 years of age. This is an additional risk factor. Our system is failing because vaccines are difficult to access financially. Let me remind you that the most important vaccines for us, i.e. influenza, covid, pneumococcal, are free for the group of people over 65, and for younger adults they are reimbursed only 50%. The barriers are administrative solutions and the issue of awareness, education of the public, as well as health care workers.

It's true. There are situations where health care workers discourage or question the need for vaccination, or do not vaccinate themselves. What is the patient's path to vaccination? Does he or she have to have a prescription from the PCP, fill it at the pharmacy and return to the PCP?

Dr. Alexander Biesiada: In the Polish system, this process is complicated. If only the question of financing itself. For a large part of patients, vaccinations, against influenza, are free vaccinations. I am thinking here of patients before 18 and after 65 years of age. The legal change with the introduction of the DZ and S prescription in these groups has meant that we can indeed vaccinate these patients against influenza free of charge, and the rest of the population with a 50% fee. Just note that a patient can get a prescription practically only at the POZ. Obtaining one during a consultation in a private office is impossible. In outpatient specialty care, it is also very difficult due to the need to check and verify th...

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