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Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Covid-10 in Poland. The next wave is coming, but the fourth dose is still a long way off

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Although the number of infections is rising by 60 percent a week, the Minister of Health does not intend to extend the indications for the fourth dose of the Covid-19 vaccine to the entire population and is waiting for the September registration of the latest preparation, also active against omicron. For now, it “softly recommends” elderly people and people with weakened immunity to wear masks in means of transport and large groups of people. However, specialists have no doubts. – Masks and rules of social distancing should be used by everyone – believes prof. Tomasz Wąsik, virologist from the Medical University of Silesia.

– For two weeks, from week to week. we’re seeing roughly 60 percent increases in infections coronavirusbut this does not translate into an equally sharp increase in hospitalized people. There are currently 450 of them, including 16 under respirators. We have established that as long as the number of hospitalizations does not exceed 5,000 nationwide, we will not take any restrictive steps – said the Minister of Health at the Friday press conference Adam Niedzielski. He recommended that people over 70 and with impaired immunity wear masks in confined spaces, but emphasized that it was a “soft recommendation”.

The minister orders you to wait for the fourth dose

The situation he described as “accelerating the epidemic phenomenon” did not prompt him to extend vaccination with the fourth dose to the entire population. According to the minister, the decline in immunization, i.e. immunity to the coronavirus, is not fast. – In January we had only eighty percent of immunization in society, and in late April and early May over 90 percent – he argued.

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When can restrictions be expected? Health Minister Adam Niedzielski explains.

Currently, the fourth dose of the Covid-19 vaccine (the second booster dose) is available to people over 80 years of age who have received the full primary immunization schedule and the first booster dose with mRNA preparation. Younger patients should only take the fourth dose if they have immune disorders. These are, inter alia, people after transplantation, oncological treatment or suffering from diseases causing impaired immunity.

The others can only wait for the fourth dose. Covid-19 vaccines are available only on the basis of a referral, and the indications for him are determined by the Ministry of Health. They cannot be purchased on the open market, and doctors cannot generate a referral for them if the patient does not meet the official criteria. When asked to extend vaccination with the fourth dose to the entire population, the minister of health said that it would most likely take place in September, when European Medicines Agency (European Medicines Agency, EMA), will approve the registration applications of two manufacturers of preparations that also protect against the omicron variant.

Experts: It’s time to get everyone vaccinated

Professor Tomasz Wąsik, head of the Chair and Department of Microbiology and Virology of the Medical University of Silesia (SUM), has a different opinion: – The infection curves are growing at an alarming rate and it is high time to introduce the fourth dose not only for the elderly, but for everyone. The fourth or at least the third dose should absolutely be taken by the elderly, patients with chronic diseases and with impaired immunity. Young and healthy people can wait until September for a fourth dose of the newer vaccine, but they should follow the rules of social distancing. This is the time when we should start wearing masks again, avoid the crowd and wash our hands often – recommends prof. A mustache.

– Although wearing a mask is met with strange looks and sometimes unfavorable comments, let’s be logical. And logic dictates that the prevention of infectious diseases helps to avoid infection – adds Prof. A mustache.

Prof. Marcin Czech, epidemiologist, former deputy health minister for drug policy and head of the hospital infection control team at the Institute of Mother and Child in Warsaw. – I wear a mask myself, for example in the subway, and today I intend to wear it at a concert at the National Stadium and I urge others to do the same – says prof. Czech, who is a supporter of introducing the obligation to wear masks in public transport and maintaining the requirement to wear them in health care facilities.

Patients return for the third dose

Although the ministry is in no rush to get the fourth dose, more and more patients themselves ask for it. GPs admit that those who took all doses at the earliest possible date are the most impatient. In their case, they can only spread their hands and hopefully wait for September. On the other hand, pharmacists, who started vaccinating against Covid-19 in pharmacies a year ago, notice increased interest in the third dose. – I have been watching them since the beginning of the summer vacation. Patients are afraid of the increase in infections and want to get vaccinated before holidays or the autumn wave. It is similar in pharmacies of pharmacists’ friends in Małopolska Niepołomice, Dolnośląskie Bolków and in Sanok – says Mariusz Politowicz from the Supreme Pharmaceutical Council, who vaccinates patients in a pharmacy in Pleszew, Greater Poland.

Main photo source: Shutterstock

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