Influenza – that’s how important the flu vaccination is in autumn

The viral flu (influenza) is a serious illness. Every year, several thousand to ten thousand people contract the flu. In the worst case, hospitalizations and deaths occur. Who should be vaccinated and how long should the gap to the corona vaccination be?

Particularly serious consequences of the flu are  pneumonia  or heart muscle inflammation, vaccination can reduce the risk of a severe course.

Influenza: The flu briefly explained

Influenza is a viral disease – both the   influenza A virus and the B strain of the influenza virus are responsible for the seasonal flu epidemic. The flu is transmitted by droplet infection, for example when coughing, sneezing or speaking. The annual incidence differs from year to year – since only a few influenza diseases occurred in 2020 due to contact restrictions and corona lockdown, experts expect a high flu incidence this year. The time from the moment of infection to the disease (incubation period) lasts on average one to two days.

The symptoms of influenza usually appear suddenly and severely:

The duration of the illness is between five and seven days – however, if there are complications, influenza can also last longer.

Influenza: When is the flu vaccination useful?

The Standing Vaccination Commission (STIKO) recommends the flu vaccination especially for risk groups and older people. But even some people who are not at risk should get vaccinated to protect others.

These risk groups should be vaccinated:

  • Adults over 60 years old
  • People with previous illnesses and chronic diseases of the respiratory organs, the cardiovascular system,  type 2 diabetes  mellitus or autoimmune diseases
  • Residents of old people’s and nursing homes
  • All healthy pregnant women from the 2nd trimester
  • Pregnant women with a chronic underlying disease from the 1st trimester
  • Persons with an increased occupational risk, for example medical staff
  • Persons in contact with poultry and wild birds to avoid co-infection with human and avian viruses. Avian viruses are viruses that actually only infect wild birds.

The flu vaccination is recommended in October and November in order to achieve vaccination protection before the flu epidemic occurs; full protection is built up after ten to 14 days.

Vaccination reactions to the flu vaccine

As with many other vaccinations, vaccination reactions can also occur after the flu vaccination. However, the vaccine is generally well tolerated. Possible side effects are:

  • Pain, redness and swelling at the injection site
  • Fever
  • chills
  • Sweat
  • fatigue
  • headache and body aches

The vaccination reactions usually last one to two days.

When to vaccinate against flu and corona?

The pharmaceutical manufacturer Novavax is already conducting initial studies with a combination vaccine consisting of flu and corona vaccination.

Currently, however, there should still be a gap of at least two weeks between the two individual vaccinations, since the Paul Ehrlich Institute continues to record possible vaccination reactions to the corona vaccination and wants to evaluate the data without disruptive factors, such as the flu vaccination.


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