Influenza season: does the flu vaccination make sense?

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Influenza season: does a flu shot make sense?

It is currently being called again to get vaccinated against flu. Now would be the right time for the vaccine to work before the next wave of flu starts. However, the Germans are vaccineers in this regard, and only around half can be vaccinated even in the risk groups.

Vaccination recommendation for high-risk groups Usually, flu cases do not start to accumulate until around January. However, the best time to get a flu shot is now, in the fall, because it takes the body about two weeks to get protection after a shot. The Standing Vaccination Commission (STIKO) primarily recommends vaccination for older people over the age of 60, chronically ill people with basic illnesses such as diabetes, asthma or cardiovascular diseases, medical staff and pregnant women from the second trimester of pregnancy, because these belong to the risk groups. In principle, however, the pros and cons of flu vaccination must be weighed against each other.

One in two rejects flu vaccination There is little motivation in this country to have vaccination protection administered by a family doctor or company doctor. One in two Germans refuses to be vaccinated against flu, according to the results of a Forsa survey commissioned by the Federal Center for Health Education (BzgA), which showed that half of the Germans have never been vaccinated against flu. The figures are also not significantly better in relation to the risk groups. Although three quarters of those affected knew that the vaccination had to be refreshed every year, only about half of the elderly and 40 percent of the chronically ill would be vaccinated annually. Only about a quarter of people in the health professions go for regular vaccinations.

Vaccination can protect against a difficult course The respondents would have given their doubts about the effectiveness of the vaccination as the main reason. The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) and other experts recommend vaccination. Even if it does not save everyone from flu, vaccination could protect against serious illness. In addition, a vaccine with "moderate effectiveness" as in the previous season would prevent a very large number of diseases.

Protection against sinus infection Wolfgang Hornberger from the professional association of ear, nose and throat specialists in Neumünster also points out that flu vaccination can reduce the risk of contracting sinus or otitis media. Because the body can use the vaccine to ward off the influenza pathogens, the mucous membranes remain intact and are therefore better able to keep other germs away. This would reduce the chances of bacteria entering the sinuses through the nose and causing inflammation there. According to Hornberger, this also applies to inflammation-causing bacteria, which could get into the middle ear via the ear trumpet, which connects the nasopharynx with the middle ear.

Children are considered the main carrier of influenza Children are the primary carriers of influenza, who can spread the disease quickly to their parents, siblings and grandparents through their diverse social contacts in kindergarten, school or even at home. "Children are also referred to as the 'fire of influenza'. They easily become infected and quickly pass the virus on to others around them, ”says Professor Dr. Wutzler from the Institute of Virology and Antiviral Therapy at the University Hospital Jena.

Vaccination agency tries to vaccinate as many children as possible. In the meantime, a nasal spray is also available for children as a flu vaccination. The UK vaccination agency is currently trying to vaccinate as many children as possible to curb the transmission of the flu. Children between the ages of two and four receive an invitation to the free flu vaccination, which is administered by their family doctor with these nasal sprays.

Nasal sprays for children The spray, which according to studies from the USA is said to offer more comprehensive flu protection, is also increasingly being used by pediatricians in Germany. Since autumn 2013, STIKO has been recommending pediatricians to use these sprays in children who are recommended to be vaccinated because of an underlying illness. In contrast to the spray variants, the nasal sprays contain live vaccines. These weakened viruses, which get into the mucous membranes of the nose and throat, trigger an immune response and make the body better armed when it actually encounters flu viruses.

Distrust of the flu shot
Opponents of the flu shot refer to the side effects, among other things. For example, the puncture site may become red, painful and swell slightly. Symptoms such as tiredness, body aches and chills can also occur. And since the inoculants also contain preservatives based on formaldehyde and mercury compounds for the most part in addition to the active ingredients, there are also considerable reservations among the representatives of naturopathic treatments against comprehensive flu vaccinations. In addition, the risk of infection can also be reduced by simple hygienic measures. Regular hand washing is recommended, as is coughing and sneezing in the crook of the arm or in a disposable handkerchief. In addition, people suffering from flu should avoid close contact with people at risk. (ad)

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