Important questions and answers
The flu has nothing to do with a normal, usually harmless cold. Influenza can be severe and, in the worst case, even fatal. After all, there is a vaccination against the disease - in times of the coronovirus this is in focus like never before.
Who is a flu vaccine recommended for?
The groups with an increased risk of a severe flu virus are similar to the risk groups for corona: people older than 60 years and patients with a history of diabetes, HIV or asthma. A flu vaccine is recommended for medical personnel in hospitals, care homes and homes for the elderly, and in healthcare. Pregnant women, residents of senior homes and nurses of risk patients are also strongly advised to get vaccinated.
Does Corona change these recommendations?
Yes and no. On the one hand, many doctors argue for all people to be vaccinated this year, if possible. This is to ensure, among other things, that the hospitalizations due to influenza remain as low as possible in the hospitals.
Also infectiologist Bernd Salzberger, president of the German Community for Virologists, says: "Anyone who can should get vaccinated." If you can save yourself from a bad cold in the winter months, it makes sense anyway.
After an assessment by the Stiko (Ständigen Impfkommission or the German vaccination committee of the RKI), the greatest effect of protecting people as well as alleviating the health system can be achieved if the vaccination quotas in risk groups can increase significantly. However, those quotas have been too low for seniors for years.
Should children also be vaccinated?
Several experts think so. When young people are also vaccinated against the flu, it helps to relieve the burden on the health care system, according to virologist Ulrike Protzer.
"We know that children can transmit the flu virus significantly," said Johannes Hübner, president of the Community of German Virologists in Pediatrics. School-age children often suffer less from a flu virus, but the virus likes to circulate there. With a vaccine they also indirectly help protect their grandparents, especially in this pandemic.
When is the best time to get vaccinated?
The general recommendation is to get vaccinated between the end of October and the beginning of November. This is because the optimal protection starts about two weeks after the injection and gradually decreases after three months. The flu waves, and thus the increased number of viruses, often start in the beginning of the year and usually last three to four months. A vaccine is still useful after November if there was no possibility before.
What level of protection does a flu vaccine bring?
This varies, but a vaccine does not guarantee complete protection. It depends on what kind of flu virus is on its way in the coming season, so you can expect around 80% protection.