Asthmatics and patients with cardiac insufficiency are particularly at risk, but small children, senior citizens, pregnant women and the immunocompromised should also prepare themselves for the current wave of influenza with a vaccination.
The first deaths have already been reported, with a triple-digit number of people falling ill at the beginning of November: The 2017/2018 flu wave has reached Germany. Although, as things stand, there is no threat of an extraordinary epidemic – such as the one that has just raged in Australia – the “normal” wave of flu is also endangering many people. And by no means only seniors with weakened immune systems.
“Influenza is not a harmless disease. It is true that for most people the effects are limited to fever, chills, a chesty cough and headaches and aching limbs. But as the recurring deaths show, it doesn’t have to stop there,” warns internist and cardiologist Dr. Frank Beekmann, who practices at the Outpatient Centre in Berlin-Friedrichshain. “The first everyday measure you can take is to wash your hands frequently. However, you get far better protection with a flu vaccination, which significantly reduces the risk of infection and may ensure a milder course.”
Who should get vaccinated?
The risk groups for whom the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) recommends flu vaccination include all people aged 60 and over, residents of old people’s homes and nursing homes, and pregnant women from the second trimester onwards. Various underlying diseases also suggest vaccination: cardiovascular diseases such as heart failure, metabolic diseases such as diabetes, kidney and liver disease, HIV, chronic neurological diseases such as multiple sclerosis and immunodeficiency or suppression. Flu vaccination is also recommended for people who come into frequent contact with others and for caregivers of high-risk patients.
Asthma patients in particular would do well to protect themselves with a vaccination, as the German Lung Foundation emphasises. An infection can lead to very severe asthma attacks. Moreover, it is very important to take the medication regularly, otherwise the risk of infection increases.
Anyone who is unsure whether he or she belongs to the risk groups and whether a flu vaccination would make sense should seek medical advice. The same applies to questions about possible contraindications, i.e. illnesses that could increase the risk of complications as a result of a vaccination.