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Bremen Chamber of Pharmacists recommend immunization in the autumn months
Think of winter, cold and flu when the temperatures are still warm? It would be important - because the next flu wave is sure to come. The numbers prove that real influenza in Germany can still be fatal: The 2017/2018 flu season was the strongest in decades. More than 300,000 people contracted the infection, and around 1,000 patients have been shown to die.
That is why doctors and the Bremen Chamber of Pharmacists advise getting vaccinated in good time to minimize the risk - the topic is particularly relevant for people over 65, pregnant women and children.
When cooler temperatures return to the Bremer Land in autumn, the next cough and runny nose are not far away. Cold symptoms such as fatigue, coughing, runny nose and feeling of cold then become noticeable. After a few days of care, those affected are usually healthy again. A real flu, on the other hand, manifests itself with a high fever, headache and body aches, cough and sore throat. “Most survive the disease without major complications. However, it can weaken the immune system to such an extent that patients also develop pneumonia or, more rarely, inflammation of the brain or heart muscle, ”warns Dr. Stefan Schwenzer, board member of the Bremen Chamber of Pharmacists.
In order to identify the correct flu, a general influenza test (near-patient test) can be done at the family doctor, the result is already known after 15 minutes. If you have the flu, evidence of influenza must be reported in accordance with the Infection Protection Act (IfSG). “The infection is quick and happens via droplet infection. If a sick person releases the pathogens by sneezing or coughing, bystanders can easily breathe in these viruses, ”says Schwenzer. There is also a risk of infection through direct contact such as shaking hands or kissing. The influenza viruses survive in the air for several hours, correspondingly even longer at low temperatures. For this reason, transmission via contaminated door handles, light switches, banknotes or grab handles in buses and trains is also possible.
When vaccination makes sense
According to experts, at most 50 percent of people are vaccinated against flu, for whom immunization is recommended. According to the Permanent Vaccination Committee (STIKO), this includes, for example, adults who have chronic cardiovascular and respiratory diseases or complaints of the kidneys, liver or nervous system. This also includes people with metabolic diseases such as diabetes mellitus, diseases of the immune system or the blood, as well as people with congenital or acquired immunodeficiency or HIV infection. In addition, according to STIKO, pregnant women should be vaccinated from the second trimester, children from the age of six, women and men from the age of 60 and residents of retirement and nursing homes.
The same applies to everyone who is at increased professional or private risk of infection. For the upcoming flu season, STIKO is recommending a quadruple vaccine for the first time - with two components each against A and B lines of the influenza virus, since last season surprisingly many people had contracted a B line that was not included in the triple vaccine. Now, cash register patients also get the quadruple dose. Important to know: "Vaccination does not guarantee 100% certainty that you will not get the flu," says the pharmacist. Still, the spades make sense.
“Studies show that flu vaccination has advantages. The protective effect is up to 80 percent in young adults and 40 to 60 percent in older people. If there is still infection, the disease is much more mild - usually without a stay in the hospital.
The best time
Those who opt for a flu shot should make an appointment in October or November. After the injection, it takes 10 to 14 days for complete vaccination protection. “If patients nevertheless get flu, pain relievers such as acetylsalicylic acid, ibuprofen or paracetamol, which are freely available in the pharmacy, alleviate the headache and fever. Inhalation, nasal spray, throat drops and cough drops and cough help to combat cough and runny nose, ”says pharmacist Schwenzer. In addition, those affected should stay in bed and drink a lot. There is also the option of prescribing antiviral agents, so-called neuraminidase inhibitors such as oseltamivir and zanamivir, from the doctor. If taken early, they reduce both the duration and the severity of the disease. (sb)