Influenza vaccination is a great way to prevent flu (influenza). The vaccine is usually well tolerated, but it can cause side effects such as pain at the injection site and fatigue and fever. Particularly recommended is the intervention for risk groups such as the elderly, persons with certain underlying diseases or pregnant women. The costs are borne in many cases by the health insurance. We inform you extensively about the flu vaccine and reveal whether it makes sense.
Is a flu vaccine useful?
The flu is an infectious viral disease that spreads by droplet infection (coughing or sneezing). It is characterized by typical symptoms such as fever, tiredness, weakness, sweats and chills.
The only way to safely prevent flu is vaccination. However, this does not provide long-term protection, but must be repeated every year. This is because the flu virus constantly changes its surface and the vaccine needs to be adjusted because of this.
A single injection is sufficient for complete flu protection. By vaccination, about 90 percent of all diseases can be avoided or a milder course can be achieved. It is important that you get vaccinated early - preferably, before the flu season begins. Ideal is the time from September to November. It takes about 14 days to be safely protected.
Risk groups should be vaccinated
For young, healthy people, flu is usually not dangerous. Those who belong to a risk group, for the flu can be a life-threatening disease. Then there is an increased probability that complications such as pneumonia occur. Therefore, for people who belong to such a risk group, a flu vaccine makes sense in any case.
The Standing Vaccination Commission (STIKO) recommends the flu vaccine for the following groups:
- Persons over 60 years
- Residents of nursing homes
- Children and adults with certain underlying conditions such as cardiovascular diseases (high blood pressure, angina pectoris, etc.), chronic lung diseases (asthma or COPD), metabolic diseases (diabetes), liver and kidney diseases and neurological diseases (such as multiple sclerosis). In addition, leukemia patients, persons with an organ transplant, as well as people living with HIV are at risk.
Apart from the mentioned groups of people a flu vaccine is also useful for people who come in contact with other people and thus have an increased risk of infection. These include professional groups such as doctors and nurses, nurses, bus drivers, teachers and sales people.
Vaccinate in pregnancy
So far, there are no indications that the flu vaccine during pregnancy could pose a risk to the mother and her unborn child. Nevertheless, in individual cases, the risk of vaccination against the risk of infection should be weighed. Since it is a dead vaccine, there is no danger that the disease can be triggered by the procedure.
It is generally recommended that pregnant women be vaccinated from the second trimester of pregnancy. If there is an underlying disease in the expectant mother, vaccination is recommended from the first trimester of pregnancy.
Inoculation for infants is not necessary
Children can be vaccinated against the flu from the sixth month of life. This is usually not necessary. Although the immune system is not yet fully developed in infants and children, children often suffer from colds and other infections.
However, it is important that such diseases be allowed for the immune system to be trained. On the other hand, if there is an increased health risk due to certain pre-existing conditions, STIKO recommends flu vaccination for children.
Side effects of the flu vaccine
The flu vaccine is usually well tolerated. Possible side effects may include mild skin irritation (redness), swelling, and pain at the injection site. It can also cause symptoms such as fatigue, increased body temperature, body aches and gastrointestinal complaints. Other side effects, the flu vaccine usually not. As is often misunderstood, the flu can not trigger the vaccine.
People who are allergic to chicken protein should tell their doctor. Because the vaccine contains egg white, it can lead to serious complications for allergy sufferers. Let your family doctor advise you whether the vaccination is possible for you or not.
Flu vaccine and cold
If you have a cold at the time of your vaccination you should better have the vaccine taken at another time. The procedure weakens the immune system and is therefore more susceptible to other pathogens. If the immune system is already attacked by the common cold, you should not burden it even more. Do not return to the doctor until you are completely healthy.
By the way: A flu vaccine does not protect you from a cold! Although this may show similar symptoms, it is caused by other viruses.
Health insurance covers the costs
The cost of the flu vaccine in many cases takes over the health insurance. However, some funds only pay if the vaccine has been recommended by the Standing Vaccination Commission (STIKO), ie if you belong to a risk group. If this is not the case, you have to bear the costs yourself or at least pay your own contribution. The cost is around 25 euros.
This is how the flu vaccine works
The flu vaccine is a dead vaccine. This contains attenuated influenza viruses that can not trigger the disease itself. By contact with the attenuated viruses, however, the organism forms antibodies. If influenza viruses now try to penetrate the body, they can be fought directly by the antibodies, thus preventing or at least alleviating an infection.