The corona infection rate in Germany is increasing. At the same time, the autumn flu season is just around the corner. Doctors are concerned – and advise vaccination.
It is still uncertain when the flu season will start this year. It usually begins in early October, then the influenza viruses begin to circulate. In 2019, according to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), the first flu sufferers in Germany were already at the end of September. If this happens again in 2020 and the flu and corona waves meet, experts say autumn could become a challenge.
WHO Europe is also currently warning of the upcoming flu season in autumn. It is important to keep a close eye on the flu as well as Corona, said WHO Regional Director Hans Kluge at an online press conference on August 20. Otherwise there is a risk of overloading the medical practices and hospitals.
Corona or flu? A quick diagnosis is important
General practitioners will be particularly challenged. You must clarify which virus is involved as soon as possible when patients come to the practice with symptoms such as cough, fever, runny nose or sore throat. The signs of both diseases are very similar, even if the viruses are only distantly related.
The chairman of the Bavarian General Practitioner Association, Markus Beier, fears that the corona pandemic and flu wave will come together. “We have to do everything we can to Covid-19 don’t get a big flu wave too, “Beier told the Augsburger Allgemeine.
The experts are also concerned that the corona test centers will be full of flu patients in the fall. These “false” suspected corona cases would not only strain the limited test capacities, but also the human resources.
Flu vaccinations could cushion possible overload
It is therefore recommended that as many people as possible get a flu vaccination in advance. Federal Minister of Health Spahn considers influenza vaccinations to be an effective way of reducing the flu epidemic to a minimum. That, in turn, could save the health system from reaching its limits. Because in an emergency, the same ventilation and intensive care capacities are required for both diseases.
Because of this, quit Jens Spahn Some time ago they started increasing their vaccine doses for the flu season. With around 25 million pieces there will be “more than ever,” said Spahn in July. For comparison: Last year, only around 16.5 million flu vaccine doses were available in Germany.
Influenza vaccination: Corona risk patients and medical staff in particular should get vaccinated against the influenza virus this year. (Source: Prostock-Studio / Getty Images)
Who should be vaccinated against influenza?
Doctors advise significantly more people to have a flu vaccination this year. But the Standing Vaccination Commission (Stiko) at the RKI is not in favor of standard flu protection for all people in the population. In any case, the 25 million vaccine doses planned and available for the upcoming 2020/21 flu season would not be enough for all of the approximately 83 million German citizens.
The Stiko is currently advising the standard seasonal flu vaccination for:
- Seniors from the age of 60 years,
- People with chronic underlying diseases like Diabetes mellitus, Asthma, COPD, Multiple Sclerosis,
- Pregnant women,
- Residents in retirement and care facilities,
- medical staff and people who are particularly exposed to the virus for professional reasons.
When should the flu shot be given?
The vaccination is usually given from the beginning of October, when the flu season starts.
Willingness to vaccinate increases with age
According to a survey, this year around 52 percent of those questioned will definitely or probably against Influenza Get vaccinated, says a survey by the opinion research institute Civey on behalf of the “Augsburger Allgemeine”. About 41 percent of respondents definitely or probably not want to do this.
According to the survey, the willingness to get the flu vaccine increases with age. While in the group of 18 to 29 year olds only around one in three stated that they wanted to be vaccinated this year, the proportion in the group of over 65 year olds was around twice as high.
Distance and hygiene rules protect against both diseases
In order to avoid a double burden on the health system with flu sufferers and Covid 19 patients, the corona protective measures currently in place can also help. Because wearing a face mask, observing distance rules and good hand hygiene also minimize the risk of infection with the flu virus.
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