Vaccination is not just for high-risk groups: doctors recommend flu vaccination for everyone

Vaccination is not just for high-risk groups: doctors recommend flu vaccination for everyone

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Curb disease: everyone should be vaccinated against flu

Most health experts particularly advise people at risk, such as the elderly, the chronically ill and pregnant women, to get vaccinated against flu. A doctor now thinks that it is best for everyone to get the vaccination. This would curb an illness that "holds us in check most in the western latitudes".

Serious illness is often played down

A flu-like infection is often mistaken for the real flu and therefore played down. But influenza is a serious disease, warns virologist Prof. Dr. Stephan Ludwig, Director of the Institute for Molecular Virology at the University Hospital Münster (UKM). Protection is provided by vaccination, which is available to all insured for the first time this year as a so-called quadruple vaccine.

Too few people in Germany get vaccinated

According to health experts, too few people in Germany are vaccinated against flu: According to a UKM message, only 30 to 40 percent of the population.

However, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a rate of 65 to 70 percent.

"This is the only way to ensure herd immunity and can thus prevent the flu from developing as effectively as possible," says Prof. Stephan Ludwig, coordinator of the nationwide FluResearchNet.

According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), over 1,600 people died of influenza last winter, and the number of unreported cases was probably much larger.

The number of 334,000 confirmed cases was 65 percent higher than in the previous year.

Flu shot for everyone

For this reason, the virologist also answers the question of who should be vaccinated: “Best everyone! We need perpetrators to contain the disease that keeps us in check most in the western latitudes. ”

The vaccination recommendation applies especially to the chronically ill, people over 60 and pregnant women. In addition to these high-risk groups, medical staff should also protect themselves through vaccination - every year anew.

"There is still no universal vaccine that will protect you for ten or fifteen years, even if research has been going on for decades," says Ludwig.

"A different or even new pathogen can always prevail than was forecast, and then the constantly vaccinated protects cross-reactivity of the immune system based on existing substances from previous vaccinations."

As of this season, a quadruple vaccine will be paid for

However, the doctor does not want to hide the fact that the flu vaccine - viewed in isolation - only helped to a limited extent in the past season.

"The expert forecast of which pathogens are currently active in the world was wrong last winter," explains Ludwig.

The basis for the annual assumptions are two A and two B types of the influenza virus, which circulate differently throughout the world.

So far, three of the expected virus variants have been included in the standard vaccine, but a quadruple substance has not been reimbursed by the health insurance companies.

Also, last season there wasn't enough quadruple vaccine available for wide coverage after the forecast was corrected.

“The STIKO, the Permanent Vaccination Commission, reacted to this. This year everyone receives the high-quality vaccine and the manufacturers were able to produce accordingly, ”explains Ludwig.

Complete vaccination protection after two weeks

According to experts, the best time for a vaccination is right now, in the fall. If you are currently unable to get vaccinated for health reasons, vaccination in November or December makes sense.

"Experience has shown that the flu runs in two waves and so you are protected at least for the second wave, which was the much stronger one last winter," says Ludwig.

Vaccination is possible at the family doctor, the costs are borne by the health insurance. According to the information, the vaccination protection is fully available after two weeks. (ad)

Author and source information

Video: Rethinking Influenza Vaccines: Nick Kelley at TEDxUMN (October 2022).