The Minister of Health, Professor Ferruccio Fazio, said yesterday that the Ministry has began to count the number of the unused vaccines in the Regions. This is the first step for the withdrawal of the vaccines. He said also that if the WHO doesn't declare the phase 5 of the pandemic (we are in phase 6), the pandemic alarm can't be ended. He concluded that the final assessment of the pandemic in Italy is good if there won't be a new swine flu outbreak. Actually, there are some flu virus circulating in the country, but they are the flu type B viruses.
The influenza virus is spreading again in Italy. There have been 111,000 cases in the last week, a bit more than in the previous week (97,000). It looks like it's not the A(H1N1) virus but a different one. A newspaper of Genoa, the local edition of La Repubblica, has said that in Liguria region the cases increased by 30% in the last week (Osservatorio Epidemiologico Regionale data).
The swine flu vaccine is really unpopular in Italy. According to the Ministry of Health, at the end of January just 851,549 people were vaccinated. Most of them had one single dose, while 47,013 people got two doses. The Ministry has an huge surplus of vaccine, that nobody knows how to use. As a matter of fact, only a small amount of the 1,047,421 available doses has been given. The data of the previous vaccinatation campaign, against a 'common' flu virus, is much higher. In the 2008-2009 campaign the 19.1% of the population got the shot, almost 11,5 millions of people. Anyway, in that case the elderly were also offered, after many years of targeted public communication. In the swine flu campaign instead only old people with other medical conditions were included, and only in the last phase of the campaign. Moreover, this has been the first time that healthy young people, aged 18-27, have been offered the flu vaccine.
Last Friday the '1500' swine flu telephone number has been discontinued. The Ministry of Health has said that in the last weeks it received very few calls, as the pandemic eased off. On the third week there have been recorded 96,000 new cases of flu, a bit more than on the previous week (82,000). The strain of the virus is unknown, it could be the A(H1N1) or another one. Meanwhile, the swine flu deaths have risen to 228. Almost half of them occured in South Italy, where live only a quarter of the Italians. The 82% of the people who died were in the at-risk group.