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RKI: The flu wave is just beginning

RKI: The flu wave is just beginning

Robert Koch Institute: The flu wave has not yet reached its peak

According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), this year's flu wave will peak in the coming weeks. Until then, a further increase in influenza infections can be expected, explained the RKI epidemiologist Silke Buda on Friday in the "morning magazine" of the ZDF. "The numbers are still increasing significantly, and we expect this to continue in the coming weeks," said Burda.

So far, just under 2,400 “clinically laboratory-confirmed confirmed influenza cases have been sent to the RKI for the 2012/2013 flu season,” according to the current “Influenza Weekly Report” of the Influenza Working Group at the Robert Koch Institute. Just under a fifth of those affected were treated in hospital for the illness. "Two clinically laboratory-confirmed deaths with an influenza infection" reported the RKI for the current flu season. RKI epidemiologist Silke Buda explained that “vaccination is still the best way to protect yourself from a disease”. However, there are still great reservations about influenza vaccinations among the population, not least because side effects are feared and vaccination protection only lasts for a very limited time.

Flu vaccination also for pregnant women According to the RKI, the current flu season started particularly early. Most of the infections are due to influenza A viruses and their subtypes (H1N1; H3N2), but also "influenza B infection and influenza cases not differentiated according to A or B" were by no means uncommon. In order to protect against infection, direct contact with the sick should be avoided as far as possible and special attention should be paid to hygiene (regular hand washing), explained the RKI expert. In particular, older, chronically ill and pregnant women should be vaccinated against flu, especially since after the relatively weak flu wave in winter 2011/2012, a much more severe flu season is currently expected. The Standing Vaccination Commission (STIKO) at the Robert Koch Institute first issued the vaccination recommendation for pregnant women in 2010. There is no particular risk for the unborn child from the vaccination. Basically, “vaccination at any stage of pregnancy is harmless”, but STIKO only recommends it from the second trimester of pregnancy.

Public reservations about influenza vaccinations Despite the recommendations of the RKI and STIKO, there are still clear reservations among the population about flu vaccinations. Even though STIKO emphasizes that "in studies, no increased number of severe reactions due to vaccination" was found in pregnant women, only a few pregnant women decide to be vaccinated against flu. They cannot be persuaded by STIKO's advice that "neither the number of premature births or caesarean sections was increased", nor were there any differences in the health status of the infants after birth ". Concerns remain that the vaccine could harm the unborn child. Given the research into possible side effects of the vaccine used in the 2009 swine flu pandemic, this is understandable concern. Here, for example, an increased occurrence of sleeping sickness (narcolepsy) and the so-called Guillain-Barré syndrome was under discussion. The experts do not see any comparable risks with the current vaccine, but skepticism persists in many pregnant women. (fp)

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