Flu vaccine also protects against swine flu

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Current flu vaccine also protects against swine flu In 2009, the whole of Germany panicked for a swine flu vaccine. When the vaccine became available, many decided against vaccination because of the feared side effects. This year, hardly anybody seems to be interested in swine flu right from the start. The fact that the vaccine against the H1N1 virus is now included in the normal flu vaccination has so far not resulted in an increase or a decrease in the vaccination rate.

Swine flu will also occur this year Even though the World Health Organization warns that swine flu may reoccur this winter and the risk of a pandemic continues, this is more of a surprise than a worry for patients. A suitable vaccination is usually only considered by people who are generally vaccinated against flu. At least due to the excitement in the past year, there has been no decrease in vaccination. The general practitioner Dr. Heinz Ullrich from the Aichach Medical Center that "last year’s excitement has subsided and people are still getting the flu shot." Rudolf Hartl, general practitioner in Kühbach, even sees growing acceptance of the flu vaccine. However, vaccination rates of 50 to 60 percent, as is the norm in Scandinavian countries and, according to Reinhard Burger, President of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), would also be desirable for Germany in the long term, despite all efforts by the health authorities to reach.

First vaccination recommendation for pregnant women In addition to the previous risk groups, people over the age of 65, chronically ill, premature babies and residents of old age and nursing homes, the vaccination recommendations of the health authorities were extended to pregnant women from the fourth month for the first time. For them, the course of the disease after infection with the H1N1 virus was mostly significantly more severe, according to the Federal Center for Health Education (BZgA) and the RKI. Dr. However, Karl Fürst, specialist for gynecology in Aichbach does not consider a general vaccination for pregnant women to be necessary, but recommends a flu vaccination only after individual advice and appropriate assessment by the specialist. According to the prince, pregnant women do not get the flu more often than other population groups. Rather, "pregnant women (...) are stable in themselves because they are more careful with themselves, are usually younger and in good health," explained the specialist.

Medical staff should provide precaution According to the health authorities, doctors and medical staff should definitely be vaccinated against flu because of the regular contact with people from the risk groups. The current vaccination rate of around 20 percent is far too low here, explained Birte Kirschbaum from the BZgA. In order to avoid the contagion of the cared for people, the medical staff should generally undergo a corresponding vaccination, according to the unanimous opinion of the experts. A flu vaccination is also recommended by the authorities for family members who are in constant contact with people in the risk groups. The best time for a vaccination is between October and November, as the risk of illness increases due to the weather in the autumn months, but the body needs about 14 days to build up appropriate flu protection after the vaccination. In addition to the H1N1 virus, it also protects against the two most common flu virus strains. When in contact with one of the corresponding virus strains, the vaccination reduces the risk of infection in healthy people by up to 90 percent, and by 30 to 40 percent in already weakened people, the experts explained. Vaccination also reduces mortality among older people.

Do not underestimate flu risks In general, the health risk from an influenza illness should not be underestimated. Every year, millions of people in Germany contract the flu, which can pose a serious health threat to many people such as people with a weakened immune system, chronic lung diseases, cardiovascular diseases or diabetes. Estimates by the influenza working group at the Robert Koch Institute assume that around 2.9 million additional visits to the doctor and 5,300 influenza-related admissions to clinics were necessary in the past 2009/2010 flu season. In addition, flu patients had to be written around 1.5 million times unable to work. For this reason, the health authorities are endeavoring to draw the general public's attention to the "necessity" of a flu vaccine through comprehensive information campaigns with posters, flyers, posters, brochures and advertisements. In addition, the national flu vaccination day will take place on November 5th. With their measures, the authorities hope to achieve a significant increase in vaccination rates.

Rejection of flu vaccinations is not without reason The fact that many Germans refused to vaccinate against the H1N1 virus last year for good reason seems to be forgotten by the health authorities when they asked for higher vaccination rates. Not the general rejection of a vaccination, but the concern about possible side effects prevented many from seeing the doctor. Since the concerns were primarily directed against the swine flu vaccine and this is also included in the current flu vaccine, the acceptance of the flu vaccine among the population will probably remain rather modest in the future. In this context, it is difficult to convey to the population that the potentiators were essentially responsible for the side effects and not the vaccine itself.

Flu vaccination with side effects For this year's flu season, the Paul Ehrlich Institute (PEI), which is responsible for the approval of the vaccines, has approved over 20 million vaccine doses. The WHO recommends the vaccine to be used every year. The combination of the influenza strains A and B with the H1N1 virus in the current vaccine has so far been regarded as relatively unproblematic. The current traditional fission vaccine does not require the controversial potentiators that were used in the swine flu vaccine. However, in the course of the currently ending flu season in the southern hemisphere, for example vaccinations in Australia have shown that the current vaccine can also have significant side effects. Some patients suffered from severe febrile seizures after the administration and a two-year-old child died within 12 hours of vaccination with no known medical history. As a result, the Australian government has started advising healthy children not to be vaccinated against flu. (fp, 19.10.2010)

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