The importance of the flu vaccine
The flu vaccine is the best protection against the seasonal flu. It is available to everyone and can help prevent flu-related hospitalizations and deaths. The flu vaccination is commonly administered via injection and it may be unpleasant. For some individuals, its administration is recommended by national health authorities.
What are the groups of individuals for which the flu vaccine is highly recommended?
There are risk groups for which, in the light of their health, the flu may present certain complications. “The flu vaccine is a health benefit that is effective in protecting oneself and the individuals around us. The vaccine may be administered to anyone with at least 6 months of age. For the general population, it is recommended to consult with your primary care physician prior to undergoing the vaccination” – says Dr. Andrea Labruto, Hygiene and Preventive Medicine Specialist at Humanitas Research Hospital.
The risk groups are identified by the Ministry of Health and the vaccine is offered in an active manner and free of charge to:
- Individuals over the age of 65
- Individuals who are administered in health facilities and require a longer hospitalization
- Individuals who are in contact with animals that could be a source of infection with nonhuman influenza viruses
- Women who are in their second or third trimester of pregnancy and find themselves at the beginning of the flu season
- Family members and individuals who are in contact with those at high risk of the flu
- Physicians and health personnel (this group of individuals helps prevent the spreading of the virus in health facilities and among the most fragile individuals)
- Public service workers who ensure the performance of essential public services (such as policemen and firefighters)
- Children and adolescents in long-term treatment with acetylsalicylic acid. There is a risk of developing Reye’s syndrome in the case of influenza infection
- Children and adults suffering from conditions that increase the risk of complications from the flu. These are chronic and different conditions ranging from diabetes to cardiovascular and respiratory diseases and all the way up to tumors affected by immunosuppression.
Anyone in these risk groups is more likely to develop potentially severe complications of the flu, such as pneumonia. It is recommended to receive a flu vaccine every year for proper protection.
For which individuals is the flu vaccine contraindicated?
“The minimum level of prosecutable vaccination is set at 75% so that wall-to-wall coverage is guaranteed. The vaccine is contraindicated only in individuals who have a history of severe allergic reaction to a flu vaccination. In addition, if there is an onset of Guillain Barre Syndrome that has developed after administration of a flu vaccine or 6 weeks prior, the vaccine is contraindicated” – replies the specialist.
How effective is the flu vaccine?
“The effectiveness of the flu vaccine comes into play approximately two weeks upon inoculation, which is the amount of time required by the body to produce antibodies. If an individual were to become infected by the virus even after having received a vaccine, the vaccine itself would manifest in a much less aggressive way” – concludes Dr. Labruto.