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The flu can be life-threatening

The flu can be life-threatening

Influenza is not a banal disease at all. According to the WHO (World Health Organization), 3-5 million cases of serious illness and up to 650,000 deaths per year are associated with influenza worldwide. Influenza can have a very severe course, cause serious health complications, lead to permanent health consequences and cause death. It can lead to pneumonia, respiratory failure or inflammatory heart disease. Patients may develop chronic medical conditions or acute respiratory distress syndrome as a result of viral infection.

We neglect prevention

The number of people who were vaccinated last year is alarming. It was only 4.8% of the population. “We are concerned about the deep decline in the vaccination of people over 59 years of age. Last year, only 5.6% of seniors were vaccinated against the flu,” says prof. Krištúfková, president of the Slovak Epidemiological and Vaccinological Society.

According to her, compared to the previous season, the number of vaccinations in this age group decreased by 98,000 people.

“At the same time, this is the most risky and vulnerable group, which is susceptible to serious complications associated with the flu and worsening of the underlying disease as a result of the flu,” adds Prof. Kristúfková.

Just for comparison, in the last flu season (2022/23), according to Kristúfková, 66% of seniors in Australia were vaccinated, 70% in Sweden and 80.9% of the population in the United Kingdom.

The flu will throw your blood sugars out of whack

Diabetics are a large group of chronically ill patients for whom the flu poses an increased threat. “The presence of diabetes increases the risk of getting the flu and worsens its course, increases the risk of flu complications and mortality,” states doc. Emil Martinka, head of the diabetes department of the National Institute of Endocrinology and Diabetes (NEDÚ).

According to him, the flu worsens the glycemic control of diabetes, increases the risk of acute life-threatening complications of diabetes, worsens the manifestations of chronic complications and the risk of cardiovascular events such as myocardial infarction or stroke.

“Patients with diabetes are hospitalized more often during flu epidemics, and their mortality is also higher. There is enough scientific evidence, and more is being added, that in patients with diabetes, flu vaccination reduces not only the number of hospitalizations, but also life-threatening complications and deaths from cardiovascular or other causes,” adds Martinka, adding that flu vaccination should therefore be an integral part treatment strategies in patients with diabetes.

Apart from general practitioners, the flu vaccine can also be prescribed and administered by doctors – specialists, such as a diabetologist, pulmonologist, allergist/immunologist, gynecologist or cardiologist and others. Vaccines are fully covered by health insurance companies for all patients and those interested in vaccination.

It triggers heart attacks and defeats even in healthy people

A growing body of scientific evidence from many studies confirms that influenza causes serious cardiovascular complications even in healthy adults. A database study of adult patients over 40 without any risk predisposition demonstrated a tenfold higher risk of death from heart attack and an eightfold higher risk of death from stroke within 3 days of laboratory-confirmed influenza infection compared to cases without influenza disease.

Although vaccination is often mentioned primarily in connection with the elderly population, research shows that vaccination is even more important for younger diabetics. When monitoring the complications associated with the flu virus, their decrease in the case of vaccination was more noticeable in the age category up to 65 years than in people over 65 years of age.

The vaccine can protect

The 2023 flu vaccine reduced the risk of flu-related hospitalizations by about 52% in the southern hemisphere, where the usual flu season runs from March to September. These data come from an analysis of data from patients hospitalized with serious acute respiratory infections in five countries. Circulating influenza viruses were genetically similar to those included in the 2023–24 Northern Hemisphere influenza vaccines.

The earth has two hemispheres and thus two periods of flu epidemics. Therefore, for example, the Australian season, which has just ended, indicates what can happen in our latitudes. Epidemiologists monitor the circulating viruses, the development of the season, the age groups most affected by the flu, as well as how well the vaccines work. This year, the flu season in Australia started earlier than usual and with a sharp onset. During the flu epidemic in Australia, they noticed an increased incidence of severe flu, especially in children. Of all hospitalized persons with confirmed influenza, 72% were children under 16 years of age, 17% were adults 16 to 64 years of age, and 11% were adults 65 years of age or older.


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