The flu vaccine is available for everyone, but for some people its administration is recommended by national health authorities. 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, “says Dr. Andrea Labruto, Hygiene and Preventive Medicine specialist at the Health Department in Humanitas hospital.
What are the risk groups of individuals for which the flu vaccine is recommended?
“The risk groups are identified by the Ministry of Health and the vaccine is offered in an active manner and free of charge:
- Individuals 65 years old or older
- Children older than 6 months, children and adults up to ages 65 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.
- Children and adolescents in long-term treatment with acetylsalicylic acid, a risk of Reye’s syndrome in the case of influenza infection
- Women in their second of third trimesters of pregnancy who find themselves at the beginning of the epidemic season
- Individuals at any age who are “long-stay patients” or admitted to health facilities for relatively long periods
- Physicians and health personnel: an important group, essential to helping prevent the spread of the virus in health facilities and among the most fragile individuals
- Family members and individuals who are in contact with those at high risk
- The public service workers of primary public interest and some particular categories of workers, who ensure the performance of essential public services (such as policemen, firefighters)
- Those who work in contact with animals that could become a source of infection with nonhuman influenza viruses
- The minimum level of prosecutable vaccination was set at 75%, so that wall to wall coverage is guaranteed.
For which individuals is the flu vaccine contraindicated?
“The vaccine is contraindicated only for those who in the past has been affected by an allergic reaction upon administration of a vaccine , the flu vaccine itself or one of its components. In addition, if there is an onset of Guillain Barre Syndrome that has derived after administration of a previous vaccine flu 6 weeks earlier, the vaccine is contraindicated, ” replies the specialist.
Is there still a risk of being affected by the flu even after getting a flu vaccine?
“The protection of the vaccine comes into play approximately two weeks upon inoculation, the time needed to allow the body to produce antibodies. Its effectiveness is not complete, but even if those who have been vaccinated should become infected by the virus, the vaccine itself would manifest in a much less aggressive way than it would in the absence of the vaccination”, concludes Dr. Labruto.