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How long does the flu shot last?

Opinions are divided about the flu shot. Supporters and opponents face each other almost irreconcilably. Here you will find answers to frequently asked questions about the flu vaccination.

Opinions are divided about the flu shot. Supporters and opponents face each other almost irreconcilably. Here you will find answers to frequently asked questions about the flu vaccination.

Proponents argue that vaccination saves human lives and offers especially the risk groups (chronically ill, people over 60, and pregnant women) the most effective – if not complete – protection against influenza infection. The vaccination critics point to the inadequate effect of the flu vaccination and alleged or actual vaccination risks from vaccines in general. Here you will find answers to frequently asked questions about the flu vaccination.

Which groups of people are particularly at risk from the flu?

Although children get the flu more than average, they usually do not have a flu vaccination. Exception: The children are chronically ill and have a reduced immune system. The flu infection is more dangerous than average for men, women, and children with reduced physical resistance. The Standing Vaccination Commission (STIKO) of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) therefore recommends vaccination against influenza for these groups of people. Also, for adults over 60, pregnant women, and all professional groups who frequently deal with children or many people. This applies, for example, to bus drivers and employees at supermarket checkout and employees at a baggage counter or in health professions.

The Weakness in Immune System

In adults, for example, the immune system is weakened by chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart failure, or asthma. Taking medication such as immunosuppressants (after transplants or for the treatment of autoimmune diseases) also weakens the body’s defenses. Older people are particularly at risk because the performance of the immune system has decreased over the years.

Children under the age of 12 have an increased risk of flu because their immune systems are not adequately developed. In addition, children in kindergarten or school are particularly exposed to flu viruses and other germs. Nevertheless, the Standing Vaccination Commission of the Robert Koch Institute expressly points out in its vaccination recommendations that it recommends the flu vaccination only for children and adolescents with other illnesses. In other words, healthy children and adolescents generally do not need a flu shot.

How well does the flu shot protect?

In principle, the flu vaccination does not protect 100 percent against flu infection. This is because the vaccines do not reliably fight all strains of the flu virus. For example, most vaccines against the 2014/2015 flu wave did not offer optimal protection against the H3N2 stress of flu viruses.

According to the Robert Koch Institute calculations, this reduced the protective effect to an average value of 27 percent. But it is also correct: On average, the flu vaccines have reliably protected around 60 percent of all those vaccinated over the past few years.

Why doesn’t the flu shot protect against all flu viruses?

Influenza viruses are diverse forms of life that are constantly changing. For the development of a vaccine, these changes are observed in flu centers of the World Health Organization (WHO) worldwide. Since one roughly knows the speed and direction of the spread of the viruses, it is possible to predict which flu viruses will arrive when and where. Correspondingly, suitable vaccines produced for these regions.

The vaccines used in Germany the result of virus monitoring in Asia and Australia. For example, about half a year between the time the virus identified in the Australian winter and the flu vaccine delivered in Europe. During this period, the flu viruses change from time to time. That explains why these flu viruses don’t respond to the vaccine.

Can I get infected from the flu shot?

With an influenza vaccination, the transmission of influenza is impossible. Vaccination does not infect you with the flu. The only exception: there are flu vaccines with live flu viruses. However, they usually only used for children. Whether or not a flu shot will transmit the disease depends on the vaccine you choose.

With the so-called dead vaccines, as they used in the majority, a transmission of the influenza viruses exclude. The situation is different with live vaccines, such as those used in nasal spray vaccines for children. Live influenza viruses contained in these vaccines, under adverse circumstances, can cause infection. Therefore, live vaccines for chronically ill people,

Who is the flu shot for?

For the vast majority of healthy people, the flu shot well suited, according to most experts. A current cold or other infections should have subsided before the vaccination appointment. Most flu vaccines are also unsuitable for people who are allergic to chicken protein. If you have ever had a severe allergic reaction to chicken protein or other vaccinations, please inform your doctor.

Are there any toxic metals in the flu vaccines?

One of the most common arguments against vaccination is that vaccines contain metals in dangerous concentrations. Usually, aluminum and mercury mentioned. For example, vaccination critics refer to the mercury-containing vaccine Pandemrix, which used against swine flu. Here the mercury was in the preservative thimerosal. Commercially available flu vaccinations do not contain this preservative at all – and therefore also no mercury. Other warnings apply to the aluminum content of vaccines.

Vaccination critics point to controversial studies, according to which aluminum from vaccines promotes multiple sclerosis or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Both diseases severely damage the nervous and muscular system. Current flu vaccines contain an aluminum salt, aluminum hydroxide, as an adjuvant. However, the Paul Ehrlich Institute sees no connection between the diseases mentioned and aluminum in vaccines. At 0.125 to 0.82 milligrams, the concentrations are far below the critical limit (1.25 milligrams).

How can I protect myself against the flu without a vaccination?

Simple hygiene practices such as sneezing or coughing in your elbows go a long way towards reducing the risk of catching the flu. This also applies to regular hand washing. In addition to the flu vaccination, careful hygiene and a sound body’s defense system reduce the risk of infection. Wash your hands several times a day. A disinfectant is usually not necessary. A simple hand wash or soap is sufficient. Hand smear infections are one of the main routes for transmission of the flu virus.

Bottom Line

Doorknobs, light switches, or banknotes are means of transmission. With thorough hand washing, you have already made one of the most critical transmission routes safer. When coughing or sneezing, you should refrain from supposedly good behavior. Do not hold your hand in front of your mouth or nose, but rather the crook of your arm. And turn away from people when you cough or sneeze. This reduces the risk of so-called droplet infection. In addition, you should use disposable handkerchiefs – and these only once.

Also read: how to clean dishwasher

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