Impfservice / Influenza

Influenza (the flu)

Where can I get my free flu shot for the 2022/23 flu season?

At all local doctor’s surgeries (general physicians, specialist doctors, private doctors) if they participate in the 2022/23 flu shot programme. A list of all participating doctors can be found on the website of the Vienna Medical Chamber. Alternatively, you can contact your local doctor directly and inquire if they participate.

What is influenza (the flu)?

The flu, also called influenza, is a virus infection. It usually starts out with a sudden high fever, a cough, muscle pains, joint pains, headaches, and a general feeling of weakness. Especially persons with a compromised immune system or elderly people may experience a worsening of existing chronic diseases, such as asthma or heart diseases. Moreover, other symptoms may develop on top of existing diseases, such as pneumonia or heart muscle inflammation. These afflictions may even lead to death.

It is important to distinguish between a real flu (influenza) and a flu-like infection. During a flu-like infection, fever is usually milder, and the progression is faster and less severe.

The real flu can be treated with specific drugs within 48 hours, which hamper the reproduction of the influenza viruses. This treatment can prevent a severe progression of the disease, but not the infection itself.

The influenza virus is transmitted via droplet infection, especially through coughing and sneezing. It can also be transmitted via the hands. It usually only takes a few days from the point of infection to the first expression of symptoms.

 

What is the difference between influenza (the flu) and a flu-like infection?

The following overview shows the symptoms of a flu-like infection compared to those of the seasonal flu. Please note that this is only a summary-like overview. Only a doctor can diagnose you with certainty.

Flu-like infection (common cold) Seasonal influenza (flu)
First symptoms Usually gradual symptoms such as shivers, runny nose, and a sore throat Sudden high fever with a dry cough, cold, headaches, muscle- and joint aches as well as feeling very unwell, loss of appetite, severe fatigue
Temperature Fever, though mostly mild or none Typically 38-41°C (100.5 – 105.9 degrees Fahrenheit)
Pathogen Usually different viruses (>200), such as rhinovirus, coronavirus, parainfluenza virus, and respiratory syncytial virus Different types of influenza A and B
Occurence Year round, more frequently during the cold period of the year Seasonally in winter, especially December through April
Complications Rare Esp. pneumonia, particularly for patients with pre-existing conditions, possible deathly outcome
Vaccination no Yes, annually before flu season
Routes of transmission
Esp. droplet infection (speaking, coughing, sneezing), but also contaminated items (such as door handles) Esp. droplet infection (speaking, coughing, sneezing), but also contaminated items (such as door handles)
Treatment of a straightforward case
Treatment of symptoms Treatment of symptoms, possibly antiviral drugs

 

How long will the influenza vaccination campaign be running?

In the vaccination centres of the City of Vienna, the campaign starts on 2 November 2022 and will end in late December 2022; local doctors will participate in the campaign until late March 2023.

 

From what age onwards can the influenza vaccination be administered?

All persons aged 6 months or older who live, work, or go to school in Vienna, can get vaccinated. Please note that children under the age of 14 must be accompanied by a legal guardian or bring a declaration of consent signed by a legal guardian.

 

Is there a special recommendation for a certain group of persons to get vaccinated?

  • Children aged 6 months and older
  • Persons with chronic diseases, especially diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, or pulmonary diseases
  • Heavily overweight persons
  • Persons with a compromised immune system, either due to a disease or to medication
  • Persons 60 years and older
  • Health care workers
  • Persons working or attending/living in community facilities (i.e. day cares, nursery schools, schools, care facilities, nursing/retirement homes etc.)
  • Breastfeeding persons or persons working with/around new-borns • Pregnant persons and persons who are trying to get pregnant during flu season
  • Persons working in jobs with increased personal contacts (i.e. tourism, restaurant trade, commerce, hairdressers, or cosmetics shops etc.)
  • Travelers (protection during travel and at the destination – it is recommended to get vaccinated at least two weeks before travelling)

What do I need to bring to my vaccination appointment?

  • E-card (if you have one)
  • Vaccination certificate (if you have one)
  • Photo ID
  • Filled out vaccination form: you can download this form if you book your appointment online (or you can get it on site when registering)
  • FFP2 mask

Please arrive at the vaccination centre 10 minutes before your appointment, so the administrative aspects can be handled beforehand.

Which vaccines are being administered for flu season 2022/23?

The following influenza vaccines will be administered:

  • Fluarix Tetra® (from 6 months to two years of age; as well as up to 15 years of age if there is a contraindication to the use of nasally administered activated vaccine or if said vaccine is not available).
  • Fluenz Tetra® “nasal spray” (activated vaccine from 2 to 15 years of age).
  • Vaxigrip Tetra® (6 months and older; also approved for pregnant persons)
  • Fluad Tetra® (adjuvanted vaccine, approved for persons 65 years and older).

The attending physician chooses the vaccine on site and then administers it.

Please note that not all vaccines might be available at all vaccination centres.

Why is it recommended that pregnant persons get a flu shot?

Pregnant persons are at high risk of catching the flu. The flu shot is recommended as it protects both the pregnant person and the new-born before and during flu season. It is strongly encouraged that you get your flu shot if you are in the second or third trimester of your pregnancy.

 

Influenza vaccination in combination with the Covid vaccination?

It is possible and sensible to administer the Covid-19 vaccine simultaneously with other activated or inactivated vaccines (such as the influenza vaccine). Please note that the attending physician is responsible – after agreeing with the patient – for making the final decision for or against a combined vaccination.

 

Are there any issues for persons who want to get a flu shot and are allergic to egg protein?

According to the national and international guidelines, a mild to moderate egg protein allergy is no hinderance to receiving vaccines that contain egg protein (with the exception of yellow fever, see below). Numerous scientific studies have shown a good tolerance of the influenza vaccines in persons with egg protein allergies. Therefore, such vaccines may be administered if the patient stays for an observation period of 30 minutes after receiving the vaccine. Egg protein allergy is the second most common food allergy among infants and usually disappears as early as school age. The EU threshold value for egg protein contained in vaccines that are considered safe for persons with allergies is 2 μg. This threshold value is only exceeded in the yellow fever vaccine; all other currently approved vaccines contain less than 1 μg per dose, often even only nanograms. However, if you had a severe allergic reaction or anaphylaxis from ingesting egg protein or from one of the available vaccines in the past, it may not be able to get your vaccination at this point. Please bring any doctors’ reports or other documents you have about this to your appointment.