Seasonal flu vaccination

Seasonal flu vaccination in Croatia began on Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Influenza is an acute infectious disease caused by one of influenza viruses. Its onset is usually sudden, accompanied by symptoms such as headache, muscle and joint pain, cough, and high temperature  (39-400C). The cough can often be severe and prolonged, while other symptoms withdraw within two to seven days. Vaccination is the best way to prevent flu.

Vaccination should ideally take place before the flu season, although even those who do not manage to get vaccinated before the beginning of the flu season may benefit from it even when the disease is already present in Croatia.

For this season, Croatian Institute of Public Health has procured 320 000 doses of trivalent seasonal influenza vaccine. The quantity estimates were based on the last year’s response to calls for 2017/2018 season immunization. This season’s trivalent vaccine secured for risk groups corresponds to WHO and EU recommendations for the 2018/2019 season and contains two subtypes of influenza A virus and one type of influenza B virus. The active substances of the vaccine are surface antigens of the following flu virus strains:

  • A/Michigan/45/2015 (H1N1)pdm09-similar strain
  • A/Singapore/INFIMH-16-0019/2016 (H3N2)-similar strain
  • B/Colorado/06/2017-similar strain (B/Victoria/2/87 line).

Vaccination is recommended for:

  • persons aged 65 and over
  • residents of care and chronic care homes (regardless of age, including children)
  • patients with chronic diseases, especially diseases of the heart and lungs, including children, and those with impaired lung function and congenital abnormalities in particular
  • adults and children with chronic diseases of metabolism, chronic kidney disease, hemoglobinopathies and immune system deficiency
  • children and adolescents (6 months to 18 years) on long-term therapy with drugs containing acetylsalicylic acid (to avoid development of Reye’s syndrome with influenza)
  • close contacts (e.g. house contacts, including children, providers of home health care etc.) of persons who, despite recommendation, cannot have the flu vaccine (contraindication)
  • residential care and chronic care home employees
  • healthcare workers
  • pregnant women

Vaccination is free of charge (by decision of the Croatian Health Insurance Fund) for:

  • persons older than 65 with health insurance
  • patients with chronic diseaes (heart, lung, kidney, diabetes, transplanted organs)
  • healthcare workers

You can have flu vaccine at your GP practice or at your regional public health institute.

At the Croatian Institute of Public Health you can get the flu vaccine every workday from 9:00 a.m. till 3:30 p.m.

Vaccination is permanently contraindicated in case of severe allergy to egg white and chicken proteins, and a history of allergy to any vaccine ingredient or of a flu vaccine-induced severe side-effect. Vaccination is temporarily contraindicated in case of acute febrile disease.

The efficacy of flu vaccine varies between seasons depending, among other factors, on the degree to which circulating viral strains correspond to vaccine strains, and on the age, health status and history of flu immunization of the person who received the flu shot. When circulating and vaccine strains match well, vaccine efficacy in healthy adults is around 70%, whereas in the elderly and chronic patients its efficacy is lower, even, in some flu seasons, as low as 20%-30%. Nevertheless, in persons whose health is seriously jeopardized by influenza, even a 20% lower risk of the disease is better than no protection at all.

The most frequent vaccination side-effects are mild and withdraw spontaneously within a day or two (oedema and redness at the injection site, fever, muscle pain, headache).