According to the Ministry of Health, between five and 15 percent of Austrians become infected with influenza viruses, which trigger a “real flu”, usually in the autumn and winter months. Many of those infected also get sick. In the past season, however, this was not the case due to corona measures such as contact reduction.
Mild flu season?
But why do we have to adjust this year? “That is very difficult to assess. This year we could face another flu season, but it could be milder again, ”explains Dr. Richard Barta, General Practitioner at the Salzburg Medical Association in the SALZBURG24 interview. According to Barta, the reason for a milder course could also be fewer contacts this year. The “real flu” or influenza – not to be confused with a flu-like infection – can be caused by coughing or sneezing (droplet infection) or jointly touching objects (smear infection). You can find a detailed explanation of the two diseases HERE.
No flu epidemic, no measles case in Austria
For the first time in decades there was no flu epidemic in Austria. Just two cases of influenza have been detected between November 2020 and today. In addition, there has not yet been a single …
Fever as an “important cleansing process”
But there are also theories that the reduced contacts do not only benefit us when it comes to the flu. The Ministry of Health, for example, wrote on September 8th that there might be a “German higher influenza activity” could come because the proportion of those who have recently had no exposure to influenza viruses has “increased significantly”. According to Barta, this has not yet been proven. But what is clear: Due to Corona and the safety measures, our immune system is still receiving less “training”: “Occasional illness is important and good for the immune system. Anyone who has a feverish infection once or twice a year has a longer life expectancy, ”explains the doctor. The reason for this is that a fever starts an “important cleansing process” in the body. “That’s why you shouldn’t necessarily lower every fever immediately.” And influenza is one of the most common reasons why people would have a fever during the flu season.
25,000 vaccination doses in Salzburg’s pharmacies
Nevertheless, it is important that certain groups protect themselves from the flu. Because with high-risk patients, this emergency can even end fatally. Vaccination offers one possibility. Around 25,000 vaccination doses from four different manufacturers are available for free sale in Salzburg pharmacies this year, according to the Chamber of Pharmacists. In addition, there would be free contingents for children, teaching staff, residents and carers. At the moment the situation is still “relaxed”. Some people from Salzburg would get their vaccines if they were dying. But there are enough available.
The influenza vaccination campaign in Salzburg started on October 1st and will run until December 31st. The best time to get a flu shot is from the end of October to mid-November, explains the Ministry of Health. Barta explains: “A vaccination always needs time to build up protection through high antibody levels.” Because the first wave usually reaches its peak in early to mid-December. “
Stitch at the family doctor
You can pick up the sting from your general practitioner. die Austrian Health Insurance Fund (ÖGK) assumes the costs for the following risk groups:
- All persons over 60 years of age (60th birthday up to and including December 31, 2021)
- Residents (regardless of age) of retirement and nursing homes and assisted living facilities
- Employees (regardless of age) in retirement and nursing homes and assisted living facilities
Even people who die due to these factors are at risk or are chronically ill do not have to pay for the sting themselves:
- Diabetes mellitus (“sugar”)
- COPD (chronic lung disease)
- bronchial asthma
- Respiratory failure
- CHD (certain coronary heart diseases)
- Heart failure (heart failure)
- Vitien (heart valve disease)
- Renal failure
- Worsened respiratory muscle strength due to neurological diseases
- Immunodeficiency (also caused by chemotherapy)
- Children / adolescents on long-term aspirin therapy to prevent Reye’s syndrome
- Pregnant women
- Massively overweight people (obesity with a BMI greater than 40)
Children often pass the virus on
In addition, general practitioner Barta knows that vaccinating children is important: “With influenza, children are the place of infection. THEY often don’t get sick, but they spread the virus. ”That is why there is also a free vaccination campaign for children in Salzburg. In any case, according to Barta, there are no dangers or side effects due to a simultaneous corona vaccination: “That is also a frequent question that has come up. If you keep an interval of 14 days, you are on the safe side.” Since the assumption of costs for the influenza vaccine itself is not the responsibility of the health insurance company, the vaccine has to be paid for privately, according to the ÖGK.
In Salzburg’s pharmacies are exclusively Quadruple vaccines offered. You can also find out more about the flu vaccine here:
- Influvac Tetra
- Vaxigrip Tetra
- Flucelvac Tetra
- Fluad Tetra (new this year for immunodeficient people over 65 years of age)
- Fluarix Tetra for children and Fluenz Tetra as a nasal spray
- Vaxigrip Tetra for teaching staff
- Elfluelda and Fluad Tetra for home residents and residents
Only two influenza cases have been detected between November 2020 and the end of March 2021. The coming weeks will show whether this number will increase again this year.