The German General Practitioners Association has called for vaccinations in view of the flu season, which started particularly early this year. “We have been advertising and working for months to significantly increase the vaccination rates for flu vaccinations,” said Federal Chairman Markus Beier of the editorial network Germany (RND). In recent years, this has been around 40 percent among those over 60, and recently slightly higher. “From our point of view, that is not enough. Unfortunately, the impression from the practices so far is not that the vaccination rate will increase significantly this year,” said Beier.

The general practitioner advised everyone over the age of 60, as well as people with chronic illnesses, to make an appointment in their family doctor’s practice as soon as possible. A flu vaccination can also make sense for younger people, for example if they have a lot of close contact with other people in their everyday work or if a particularly vulnerable person lives in their household.

The German Hospital Society warned of a possible burden on the clinics. “A strong wave of influenza, the increase in other respiratory diseases and continued high corona numbers lead to considerable isolation efforts in hospitals and can result in staff shortages,” said CEO Gerald Gass to RND. “This would then also affect the supply.” It is therefore “immensely important” that the flu vaccination is used by as many people as possible, especially by those who are at risk.

According to the association’s chairman, Beier, family doctors are also at their breaking point. “The practices have been working at full capacity for almost three years now,” he said. Hospitals are often the focus of public attention, but general practitioners and practice teams are also exhausted.

The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) had dated the start of the flu wave this year to the week ending October 30. In the years before Corona, the annual flu epidemic usually began in January and lasted three to four months. In the past two seasons, however, the corona pandemic and the measures taken to counteract it have changed the usual course significantly: In 2020/21 there was no flu epidemic worldwide. And in 2021/22 there was not a wave of the usual scale in Germany either, the number of registrations only rose after the Easter holidays and therefore very late.