Emergency room in chaos: the decline in vaccinations against Covid and flu is to blame

Emergency room in chaos: the decline in vaccinations against Covid and flu is to blame

Emergency rooms transformed into a nightmare experience for patients, hospital wards under siege, and hundreds of patients waiting for days to be transferred to ordinary hospitalization or intensive care departments. It is the dramatic situation of Italian hospitals described in an appeal just released by Foce (Federation of Oncologists, Cardiologists and Hematologists), which wants to draw the attention of the public and institutions to the problems our hospitals are experiencing, and the patients who are forced to go there, from the beginning of the winter season. The fault, according to the specialists of the Foce management, is easy to identify: the clogging of the emergency rooms would in fact be due to the combination of infections caused by Covid and flu, which in recent months are causing two parallel epidemics due to an inadequate campaign vaccination.

Vaccinations declining

As Foce recalls, from the beginning of the autumn-winter campaign to 4 January 2024, 1,927,035 citizens were vaccinated in our country: just 13.6% of those aged over eighty, 10.3% of the age group between 70-79 years and only 4.7% of citizens between 60-69 years old. And participation in the vaccination campaign is constantly decreasing, given that vaccinations have collapsed from a peak of 256 thousand in the week of 14-21 December 2023 to 75 thousand in the following week, reaching only 59 thousand in the last 7 days. Tuscany, Emilia-Romagna and Lombardy continue to be the Regions in which the majority of administered doses are concentrated, while all the Southern Regions, Lazio, Marche and Abruzzo have produced absolutely limited numbers.

Covid has not disappeared

Faced with a constantly increasing level of infections, therefore, and a mortality rate of Covid-positive patients which reached a peak of 425 deaths at the end of December and continues to remain high even in the last week, with 371 deaths, vaccinations they remained – so to speak – at the stake.

“It is clear that what someone said at the end of July is not true, that is, that the Covid pandemic ‘had ended in numbers’”, writes the Foce board in its appeal. “The virus never disappeared. On the other hand, the very term ‘pandemic’ blatantly contradicts such a statement: well, the actual pandemic phase may be over, but the fact is that the virus continues to circulate at high levels and the burden of disease it causes is it was added to that of a particularly contagious and aggressive flu this year. Statements of this kind and others therefore gave rise to the belief among the population that everything was over. We have witnessed a total removal of SARS-CoV-2, it is as if the virus had been forgotten. As a result, the vaccination campaign was completely unsatisfactory.”

The failure of the vaccination campaign

The current crisis in the Emergency Department, which the Foce defines as very acute, is therefore due to the poor adherence to anti-Covid vaccinations in the risk groups, to lower coverage than normal also with regards to anti-flu vaccinations, and to the easing of measures and distancing tools and masks. “The ones who pay the price – the management always writes – are the elderly and the frail patients, including those affected by the pathologies we are interested in. Foce can only express its concern and dismay over this alarming situation, due to the lack of any planning and organization of an already difficult vaccination campaign. The waste of public resources must also be highlighted, due to the failure to use enormous quantities of vaccination doses already purchased by the State”.

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