The flu vaccine will become mandatory for citizens over 65 years of age. In addition to the elderly, compulsory immunization against influenza will include pregnant women and people with chronic diseases.
At the same time, the chickenpox vaccine should now be given to different population groups, including children from the sixth grade onwards who have not previously acquired immunity, people with atopic dermatitis and those in need of an organ transplant, but also women who are planning a pregnancy.
Women who are planning on getting pregnant will also be included in mandatory rubella immunization. All novelties are introduced by the new regulation on the mandatory and recommended immunization programme, published in the Official Gazette at the beginning of May.
Experts have different opinions about the new immunization regulation.
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The retired professor of the Faculty of Medicine and a pulmonology and oncology specialist, Dragana Jovanović, argues that “the epidemiological data in the world and in our country regarding certain population groups have not changed in the last decade” and that she sees no reason why all of a sudden these population groups should be included in mandatory immunization.
The President of the Association for Public Health and the consultant of UNICEF and the World Bank, Dragoslav Popovic believes that the novelties regarding immunization are good, underlining that a more ambitious plan on recommended vaccines should be devised.
In addition to the flu vaccine, the chickenpox vaccine covers a large number of population groups, including children from the sixth grade onwards who have not previously contracted the disease.
The new regulation has brought much wider coverage than mandatory vaccination. This also means that Serbia will get more vaccines in the period from 2021 to 2023. The regulation states that between 400,000 and 500,000 vaccines are needed for influenza alone. In comparison, the previous influenza ordinance provided for between 240,000 and 280,000 vaccines.
The president of the Association of Paediatricians, Dr. Georgios Konstantinidis, believes that the new regulation is good, although the potential problem will be like vaccinating so many people.
“What I see as a potential problem with the aforementioned compulsory active and passive immunizations of people at special risk, particularly influenza, is how it will be conducted on an organizational and financial level. Over 20% of the Serbian population is people over the age of 65, i.e. about 1.3 million people,” says Dr Konstantinidis.
The Danas daily asked the Batut Public Health Institute for clarification of the new regulation, on but has not received any response so far.
This post is also available in: Italiano