TOKYO, Sept. 15 (Xinhua) -- Influenza vaccines supply in Japan are forecast to slow down this season compared with the previous year, partly due to the global shortage of ingredients, health ministry officials said.
The ministry said flu shots for around 51.3 million to 55.8 million people will be provided in the country this season. The total supply of flu vaccine this season is projected to decline from last season, yet roughly the same level as in a usual year.
Compared with 10 million to 20 million people who caught the flu in an average year, the number of people estimated to have been infected with the influenza last season are approximately 14,000, fewer than 0.2 percent of about 7.285 million people in the 2019-2020 season.
The National Institute of Infectious Diseases (NIID) concluded that there was no influenza outbreak in Japan last winter.
However, some experts are worried about the possibility of COVID-19 and flu infections spreading simultaneously this winter.
"Simultaneous outbreaks of the novel coronavirus and flu did not come last year, although we had expected that to happen," NIID head Takaji Wakita said at a news conference last week, adding it is difficult to predict the outbreak situation this season.
"There is a possibility that influenza will spread this season as the number of people susceptible to flu is seen rising among various age groups following the absence of an outbreak last season," said Takashi Nakano, a professor at Kawasaki Medical School, calling on people to consider getting vaccinated against flu.
"Infectious diseases other than COVID-19 and flu also tend to spread in the winter," the professor said, urging people to continue taking thorough infection prevention measures.
In June, the Japanese Society for Vaccinology warned that the medical system could collapse under the COVID-19 pandemic on the occasion influenza outbreak occurs in the country at the same time. Especially the elders, infants, and pregnant women are highly recommended to receive influenza vaccination. Enditem