The hygiene measures used over the past two years to contain the Covid 19 pandemic slowed not only the spread of coronaviruses but also infection with seasonal influenza viruses. As a result, the body was exposed to fewer bacteria and viruses, making it difficult for the body's immune defenses to strengthen. As a result of the relaxed protective measures, the risk of infection with the flu has now also increased. This was particularly evident in Australia, where the annual flu epidemic was particularly severe from June to August (the Australian winter months). A similar flu situation is feared in Europe in the coming months. According to doctors and health ministries, the risk of infection could be reduced by flu vaccination.
Who should protect themselves with a vaccination?
The STIKO (Standing Commission on Vaccination) recommends that risk groups in particular immunize themselves against the viruses. This concerns:
- Persons over 60 years of age (with high-dose vaccine).
- Pregnant women from the 2nd trimester or, in the case of increased health risks, from the 1st trimester onwards.
- Persons with an increased health risk due to an underlying disease (e.g. cardiovascular diseases, chronic diseases of the respiratory organs, kidney and liver diseases, metabolic diseases, chronic underlying neurological diseases)
- residents of old people's or nursing homes
- Persons who are considered a potential source of infection for risk persons living in the same household.
Furthermore, due to an increased risk of infection in the professional environment, the following groups of people are advised to be vaccinated:
- Persons at increased risk (e.g., medical personnel).
- Persons in facilities with a high level of public traffic
- Persons who are considered a potential source of infection for at-risk persons in their care.
Who should not be vaccinated?
- Persons suffering from a febrile illness or an acute infection (but should be vaccinated at the earliest possible opportunity once the illness has resolved)
- Persons with an allergy to chicken egg white or to other components of the vaccine (vaccination possibilities should be discussed with the attending physician)
- Children and adolescents suffering from clinical immunodeficiency or severe asthma should not be vaccinated with the live vaccine
When should you get vaccinated?
The immune system needs 10 to 14 days to build up the desired protection after vaccination. In Germany, the number of cases of influenza infections usually begins to increase at the end of September and reaches its peak after the turn of the year. According to the Robert Koch Institute, the recommended time for vaccination is between October and mid-December.
What antigens does the vaccine contain this year?
The seasonal influenza vaccine contains components of the respective virus variants that are expected in the coming season. This year's influenza vaccine for the northern hemisphere contains the antigens for the already known variants of the southern hemisphere virus strains: influenza type A viruses H1N1 and H3N2, and influenza type B viruses Austria and Phuket.