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Health experts explain: why you should be vaccinated against flu
Health experts say the annual flu season usually begins in January. Nevertheless, it is recommended to get vaccinated against influenza viruses now. The flu shot can help save lives.
Protect in time
According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), the annual flu wave has mostly started in January in the past few years and lasted three to four months. Only a few cases are observed outside this period. Nevertheless, the experts already recommend getting vaccinated against influenza viruses in order to be protected in good time. In the 2018/2019 flu season, insured persons are legally entitled to a quadruple flu vaccine for the first time.
Disease can be fatal
A cold is often referred to as a "flu infection", but it has nothing to do with the real flu (influenza).
The two diseases are caused by different pathogens. Flu is caused by influenza viruses.
Influenza can be accompanied by a sudden onset of illness with fever or a clear feeling of illness, combined with muscle and / or headache and irritable cough.
"Influenza disease can lead to complications, such as pneumonia, for example in older people, the chronically ill and pregnant women and can even be fatal," writes the RKI.
Influenza increases the risk of heart attack
The vaccination expert at the German Geriatric Society (DGG), Dr., knows how dangerous flu can be. Andreas Leischker.
"Especially in the elderly and in people with chronic diseases - such as diabetes mellitus, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, COPD for short, or kidney failure - life-threatening complications such as lung failure can occur," said the doctor in a message.
The expert also points out that influenza significantly increases the risk of a heart attack: "During the first seven days of an influenza disease, the risk of a heart attack is 17 times higher!" Leischker.
"And even a month after the infection, the risk of an infarct is significantly higher than that of people who are not ill." According to the expert, strokes also occur more frequently as a result of influenza.
Protection against infections
In order to protect yourself against a flu infection, it is generally a good idea to strengthen the immune system, keep away from the sick and wash your hands regularly.
The flu shot also offers protection. According to Dr. Protect Leischker from heart attacks and strokes.
People who are at risk should be vaccinated. But not everyone does this.
For whom a vaccination makes sense
"Many patients still underestimate the health risk of a flu infection and do without the annual flu vaccination," said Federal Minister of Health Jens Spahn during a visit to the Paul Ehrlich Institute (PEI), the federal authority for vaccines.
“We shouldn't take the flu lightly, it is not always easy. The best protection against flu viruses is and remains the vaccination, ”said the politician.
But experts say that at most 50 percent of people are vaccinated against flu, for whom immunization is recommended.
According to the Permanent Vaccination Committee (STIKO), these include, for example, adults who have chronic cardiovascular and respiratory diseases or complaints of the kidneys, liver or nervous system.
This also includes 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 HIV infection.
In addition, according to STIKO, pregnant women should be vaccinated from the second trimester, children from the age of six, women and men from the age of 60 and residents of retirement and nursing homes.
The same applies to everyone who is at increased professional or private risk of infection.
For the upcoming flu season, STIKO is recommending a quadruple vaccine for the first time - with two components each against A and B lines of the influenza virus, since last season a surprising number of people had contracted a B line that was not included in the triple vaccine.
"The flu vaccination at the expense of statutory health insurance will only be given with a quadruple vaccine this vaccination season," explained the chairman of the Federal Joint Committee (G-BA), Prof. Josef Hecken, in a statement.
“This applies to defined risk groups and generally for all over 60 year olds. In addition to this compulsory benefit, health insurance companies also offer their insured persons a vaccination as part of the voluntary statutory benefits, ”said the expert.
According to the RKI, it takes ten to 14 days after vaccination for vaccination protection to be fully established.
But it is also important to know: "No vaccination offers 100% protection, which is why influenza can also occur after a flu vaccination," writes the RKI. (ad)