How does the flu vaccine work?

DECO informs…

In this new column, Portuguese consumer watchdog DECO will be informing readers of various interesting issues and laws affecting consumer decisions.

The vaccine is made up of inactive viruses, which stimulate the production of antibodies – a normal reaction in the immune system against “invading” illness. If infection occurs after taking the vaccine, the body’s defences recognise the “enemy” and neutralise it.

The World Health Organisation monitors a gobal network that follows the activity and evolution of flu viruses. With the information gathered, a new vaccine is created annually. Therefore, vaccination should occur every year because of the constant evolution of the flu virus.

The General-Directorate for Health (DGS) recommends vaccination for citizens over the age of 60 who suffer from chronic pulmonary, cardiac, renal, hepatic or diabetic diseases, for those who have weakened defences, for children and teenagers with chronic diseases who live in institutions and for handicapped individuals living in homes. Pregnant women past their first trimester are also advised to get the shot.

Vaccination is offered free at health centres for certain groups such as: the over-65s, nursing home residents, patients at continuing healthcare centres, children and teenagers with chronic diseases who are institutionalised, and healthcare workers of the National Health Services who possess a vaccination recommendation.

In 2013, if you buy a flu vaccine at a pharmacy with a prescription, it will cost between €3.93 and €4.15 or €3 and €3.16 if you benefit from the government’s contribution system.