Expensive flu prevention, but more expensive flu treatment
Part of the vaccines are for the first time free, and the commercial ones cost 650 denars. Unlike last year, there is a price increase of 250 denars.
The average treatment for one case of influenza costs us about 3300 denars.
Katerina Obochki, a pulmoalergologist, says the chronically ill, especially those with pulmonary diseases, should get the vaccine.
By: Teodora Cvetkovska
With a higher price compared to last year, the Ministry of Health has provided vaccines in the past days as a prevention of the influenza virus. Although with a significant delay of almost a whole month, this year the citizens have again great interest in vaccination. The reason is simple – the viruses from the “influenza” type are very unpleasant for the young, and life-threatening for the elderly. Depending on the type of virus, the flu may last between seven and ten days, is followed by high temperature, fever, pain, and can cause other relapse and other health consequences.
There are not precise statistics on the indirect effects of the flu in the country, but the World Health Organization (WHO) notes that every year about 500,000 people die from complications from influenza. About 10% of these deaths are in Europe.
More expensive than last year – what’s the difference?
Last year the Ministry of Health informed that this vaccine is prepared according to the recommendations of the World Health Organization, and protects against two types of Group A viruses and one group B virus. The vaccine manufacturer of the vaccines that were purchased last year is Abbott from the Netherlands. They cost 400 denars.
This year, the vaccines were purchased from the French pharmaceutical company Sanofi Pasteur. Some of them are free for the first time, and commercial vaccines cost 650 denars. But part of the public reacted to this price increase and opened the dilemma about how much these vaccines are actually free.
The Ministry of Health says that the higher level of protection of the vaccine is the reason for the new price.
“This year, the price of vaccines is higher because this is a quadrivalent vaccine, unlike last year when it was trivalent, but we also make effort to keep the additional application fee minimal,” says in the written response for Inbox7.
For this procurement, the Ministry had planned 13 million denars or 216,000 euros, but after the conducted electronic auction, the price reached the total amount of 8,6 million denars or 140,000 euros.
From the Ministry of Health we got the answer that by scheduling through “Moj termin” (My Appointment), the chronically ill and the pensioners who have a pension less than 14 thousand denars will be able to get free vaccines. But they emphasize that they will have to be examined before by a family doctor, because people who want to be vaccinated should be in good health in order to get the vaccine.
Dr. Aleksandar Stojanov, an epidemiologist, said that the increase of the price of vaccines is due to the fact that this year they are quadrivalent and with higher protection.
For the competent specialists, the limitations are for financial reasons.
“Every country has a budget that is not unlimited, this year for a change the Ministry of Health managed to provide 28,000 free vaccines for the whole Macedonia. 5000 free and 4000 commercial vaccines have been allocated for Skopje. There had to be a selection who would get them. However, there are not enough funds to be procured, so the decision was for those to be the pensioners over 65 and people with a lower pension of 14,000 denars. Until now vaccines have always been paid, and this year efforts are made to get them in such quantity, so it remains to see whether people will call and whether every one of them will be used, so that we can plan some more for the next year,” says dr. Stojanov.
SO FAR TWO THOUSAND PEOPLE HAVE BEEN VACCINATED
According to experts, such quadrivalent influenza vaccines provide protection against four types of influenza, that is, two A-type and two B-type viruses. So far flu vaccines have been trivalent, but following the recommendation of the World Health Organization, new vaccines have been developed, since the two types of B virus with different intensity were present at different times of the year in different countries. The Centre for Public Health in Skopje says that 2,000 people have been vaccinated in only three days.
Divided opinions on the effect of vaccines
Doctors believe that influenza vaccines are safe and that all people belonging to vulnerable categories should get them. In Macedonia, there are often hesitations whether to get vaccinated or not, questioning their quality. Many campaigns against vaccines often suggest that they do not protect 100 percent against the disease, and therefore one should not get vaccinated.
“Experts have never claimed that vaccines protect 100 percent, as well as all remaining drugs. Vaccines are very effective when administered according to a defined schedule, from 80 to 100 per cent, depending on the vaccine. But even if they do not offer 100 percent protection, even if a person gets a disease, the person who is vaccinated will have a much easier clinical picture than the person who did not get the appropriate vaccine.” – says dr. Katerina Obochki, pulmoalergologist.
She stressed that chronically ill persons, especially with pulmonary diseases, should get vaccinated in order to prevent higher treatment costs than the vaccine itself, although this year it is more expensive for extra 250 denars.
How much does a flu treatment cost?
Doctors say the symptoms of the influenza virus appear three days after the infection. The infected person is cold, exhausted, has high fever, headache, muscle and bone pain, irritable feeling in the throat, and dry cough. All of these symptoms usually disappear in 2-7 days, only cough can last for several weeks.
The average treatment of one case of influenza costs us about 3300 denars, while the vaccine is 650 denars.
Citizens with whom we discussed this topic have divided opinions. Most of the respondents told us that they have never been vaccinated in their lifetime with this type of vaccine, nor do they plan to do it this autumn. Those who responded positively say that everybody needs to get vaccinated, and that the vaccines have protected them so far.