Influenza is a
disease caused by a virus. This pathogen is very special, because it is able to
change its structure continuously and rapidly. That’s why it is able to
surprise us from time to time. It’s able to make numerous people sick at the
same time, causing serious complications. A lot of other viruses can cause similar
symptoms, especially during autumn and winter. However, these viruses cannot
spread so quickly and the courses of the diseases are not that severe.
According to the data of World Health Organization (WHO) the annual number of
severe cases requiring hospitalization is between 3-5 million, out of which
250-500 thousand are unfortunately fatal. This number is to think over
especially in case of a disease, which can be prevented by vaccination.
HOW DOES INFLUENZA
Billions of viruses
are let into the outside world by respiratory doplets created during coughing,
sneezing and speaking. These pathogens infect healthy people by getting into
the human body by inhalation or by touching infected objects. Only even a few
pathogens are sufficient for the disease to develop, which is in favour of the
spreading of flue. This way it’s easy to understand why the majority of the
communities (schools, work places, community homes) can get sick from one day
Crowded places –
public transport, nightclubs, and communities - are especially in the favour of
the spreading of the infection.
WHAT SYMPTOMS DOES
The disease may start
with general symptoms. They emerge quickly, also in a couple of hours. They are
as follows: fever, discomfort, weakness, muscle pain, joint pain, runny nose,
sore throat, hoarseness and dizziness. Typical are by 80% fever, discomfort and
cough. In case of children vomiting and diarrhoea may occur. High fever can be
very risky in case of babies, the elderly and people suffering from chronic
diseases, because it endangers the heart, the lungs and can disturb metabolism
(diabetes). In these cases the number of complication increases, the disease is
present in a more severe form. The disease cures in 1-2 weeks, however, convalescence
can take longer.
WHAT ARE THE WAYS OF
Closed, crowded areas
have to be avoided during epidemic. Sick people should stay at home for a
couple of days, bed rest is important.
Protect your environment by using tissues or masks when sneezing, or
cough. Washing hands frequently is recommended. The most effective way of
protection is the vaccination against influenza repeated annually. It’s worth
receiving the immunization before the season of the flue, which makes us
protected before the epidemic would start.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT
TO RECEIVE THE VACCINATION ANNUALLY?
There are three types
of influenza: A, B and C. The seasonal flu epidemics are caused by version A
and B each year. Version A occurs among animals (bird, swine) as well, but the disease
does not always develop in the species carrying the virus. The vaccination
against flue contains 2 A and one B strains each year. These strains are
determined by WHO based on analysing the flue epidemics data of the previous
year. Practically, it has to be reconsidered each year which strains may cause
diseases. This way the experiences of the former season are reflected by the
composition of the vaccines of the actual season.
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WHY IS THE FLUE
available in Hungary only contain inactivated virus cells or some certain parts
of it. These do not cause diseases; merely prepare the immune system for the
protection against influenza. The reception of the vaccination may be
accompanied by some unpleasant symptoms as follows: fever, headache, weakness,
discomfort, as well as local redness, swelling and pain at the place of the
injection. These phenomena are only temporary, and get better in a couple of
FOR WHOM SHOULD IT BE
CONSIDERED AND WHEN?
The risk of the
disease is much greater than that of the vaccination. Therefore the
immunization is recommended to everyone above the age of 6 months
people (e.g. elderly people, chronic diseases).
- Those that work with lots of people in
closed areas, or get in touch with several people when working.
- The family members of babies younger
than 6 months, because their protection can only be carried out by the
vaccination of the ones in the environment of the child.
- For future mothers. International
suggestions recommend using the vaccination against flue already at the stage
of family planning, in case the pregnancy and birth are expected in the season
- In case of planning long flights
- Taken into consideration economic
aspects: everyone who would like to prevent spending a fortune on medicines in
case of getting flue.
Vaccination cannot be
given to people who are severely allergic to eggs, or if medical intervention
was necessary after receiving the former immunization. Request the immunization
as soon as possible, since it takes 2-3 weeks for the vaccination to take
effect, and it is not predictable when the epidemic would start. It is worth
asking for the immunization against influenza during the epidemic season as
well, if it could not have been given earlier. Consult your doctor before
receiving the vaccination!