Germany urges flu vaccination after outbreaks

Gerd Müller says fresh debate about vaccine-related health concerns has shown the vaccine is safe and works

Germany’s health minister has asked people to get vaccinated against the flu virus following outbreaks of the highly contagious illness in the country.

Gerd Müller, the government’s public health spokesman, told daily newspaper Bild it was important to keep the spread of the flu under control amid seasonal higher levels of infections, with mostly upper respiratory illnesses.

But he added that new debates about vaccine-related health concerns had shown that the traditional “culture of vaccination” was still part of the people’s normal lives.

“It’s always great to have a closer look at how the mechanisms of vaccination work,” he told the paper.

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Last month, a campaign to save nearly a dozen children from dying from influenza was organised by a group of Berlin teens.

Germany’s Health Ministry says its vaccination rate stands at 77.3%, far above the European average, but nearly 15 million people – or 5% of the population – are not vaccinated.

The ministry said that 1.1 million people had already received seasonal flu vaccines between November and February 2018, out of a total population of more than 81 million people.

The national immunisation programme to provide at least one dose of the vaccine is usually available in early October.

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