As winter comes, the circulation of viruses that cause Covid-19 and seasonal influenza could possibly trigger a "twindemic", the European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Stella Kyriakides warned on Friday.
"As we move from autumn to winter... we need to take action and ensure our health systems do not become overburdened," Kyriakides said in a statement, Xinhua news agency reported.
The commissioner said up to 40,000 people in the European Union (EU) lose their lives each year due to influenza-related causes even without the pandemic, calling on the public to get vaccinated against the seasonal influenza.
With Covid-19 restrictions in place, the EU had an "extremely mild flu season" last year. "Let's ensure that we do not have a resurgence this year, as our societies gradually reopen," she warned.
Vaccination remains the most effective form of prevention, both for Covid-19 and flu, stressed Kyriakides.
Nearly three-fourths of the adult population in the EU have been fully vaccinated against the Covid-19, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).
The ECDC statistics show that while 90 per cent of adults have been fully vaccinated in Portugal and Ireland, only 34.8 per cent of adults in Romania and 23.7 per cent in Bulgaria have received the needed doses.
Kyriakides said the situation is similarly dire when it comes to the overall uptake of influenza vaccinations. "There are Member States with almost 70 per cent of their elderly vaccinated, and in others less than 10 per cent," she noted.