Virus protection: health experts call for flu vaccination
The flu season last winter was particularly difficult. According to experts, almost 60,000 people had to be treated in hospitals. Influenza infection was fatal for 1,665 people. Health experts recommend that those who do not want to take unnecessary risks this season should already take advantage of protection options and get vaccinated.
Claim to a quadruple vaccine
Autumn has arrived in Germany. Soon there will be the first cases of flu. Some people suffer more from such infections. For this reason, health experts are calling on people from high-risk groups in particular to be vaccinated. In the 2018/2019 flu season, people with statutory health insurance will for the first time have a binding claim to a quadruple vaccine against influenza.
Immune system can be massively weakened
In autumn the next infection is often not far away. Cold symptoms such as exhaustion, coughing, cold and a feeling of cold then become noticeable. After a few days of rest, those affected are usually healthy again.
A real flu, on the other hand, manifests itself with high fever, headache and aching limbs, cough and sore throat.
“Most survive the illness without larger complications , explain Dr. Stefan Schwenzer, member of the board of the pharmacist chamber Bremen, in a report.
“However, it can weaken the immune system to such an extent that patients also suffer from pneumonia or more rarely from brain or heart muscle inflammations,” warns the expert.
Shaking hands or kissing is a risk of infection
In order to detect a real flu, a quick influenza test (near-patient test) can be done at the family doctor, the result is already known after 15 minutes. If there is flu, the proof of influenza must be reported in accordance with the Infection Protection Act (IfSG).
“Infection is rapid and occurs via droplet infection. If a sick person releases the pathogens by sneezing or coughing, bystanders breathe in these viruses easily,” Schwenzer says.
There is also a risk of infection through direct contact such as shaking hands or kissing. Influenza viruses survive in the air for several hours, or even longer at low temperatures.
For this reason, transmission via contaminated door handles, light switches, banknotes or handholds in buses and trains is also possible.
When vaccination makes sense
According to experts, a maximum of 50 percent of people can be vaccinated against influenza for whom immunization is recommended.
According to the Standing Vaccination Commission (STIKO), these include adults with chronic cardiovascular and respiratory diseases or complaints of the kidneys, liver or nervous system.
They also include people with metabolic diseases such as diabetes mellitus, diseases of the immune system or the blood as well as people with congenital or acquired immunodeficiency or an HIV infection.
According to STIKO, pregnant women from the 2nd trimester, children from the age of six, women and men from the age of 60 and residents of old people’s homes and nursing homes should also be vaccinated.
The same applies to everyone who is exposed to an increased risk of infection at work or privately.
For the coming flu season, STIKO recommends a quadruple vaccine for the first time – with two components each against the A and B lines of the influenza virus – since surprisingly many people had contracted a B line last season that was not included in the triple vaccine.
Now also patients of the National Health receive the quadruple dose. It is important to know that “the vaccination does not provide 100 percent certainty that the patient will not contract the flu,” said the pharmacist. Nevertheless, the spades make sense.
“Studies show that a flu vaccination has advantages. The protective effect is with young adults with up to 80 per cent, with older ones with 40 to 60 per cent. If infection does occur, the disease is much less severe – usually without a stay in hospital.
The best time
Who decides for a flu vaccination, makes best a date still in October or November. After the injection, it takes ten to 14 days for the vaccination to be fully effective.
“If patients should nevertheless fall ill with influenza, pain killers such as acetylsalicylic acid, ibuprofen or paracetamol, which are freely available in pharmacies, relieve headaches and fever. Inhaling nasal sprays, throat candies and cough drops and juice can help against coughs and colds,” says pharmacist Schwenzer.
In addition, those affected should rest in bed and drink a lot. In addition, doctors can prescribe antiviral agents, so-called neuraminidase inhibitors such as oseltamivir and zanamivir.
Taken early, they reduce both the duration and severity of the disease.