Vaccination and good hygiene are important to mitigate the spread of seasonal flu. To this end, Luxembourg's health institutions have put up efficient care systems, i.e. vaccinations and sentinel surveillance in order to limit the virus' impact in Luxembourg. As the flu season is approaching, it is important to be aware of good hygienic practices and to get informed about the vaccine.
Protect yourself from the flu
The head of the National Health Directorate, Dr. Jean-Claude Schmit explains the problem of influenza in Luxembourg:
'Luxembourg is impacted each winter by an episode of seasonal flu, usually between late January and March. Its impact on public health varies according to the type of virus involved, but usually results in a slight excess of mortality for a few weeks. [...] Prevention is based on hygiene recommendations, including washing your hands and vaccination.'
The vaccine remains the most effective way to protect yourself from the flu and its complications. Since the virus is in constant mutation and new vaccines must be developed to match these mutations it is necessary to be vaccinated every year between mid-October and the end of November for ideal protection. The vaccine is particularly recommended for people at risk, i.e. for people over the age of 65, pregnant women, health professionals and people with chronic and autoimmune diseases. The National Health Fund (Caisse nationale de santé, CNS) pays 100% of the flu shots for these people.
The National Health Laboratory (Laboratoire national de santé, LNS), the Health Directorate and a network of general practitioners throughout the country work together every year from October until April in order to ensure a sentinel surveillance of influenza. Dr. Jean-Claude Schmit explains:
'Reporting the flu is not mandatory. [...] However, there is a system of sentinel doctors who voluntarily declare cases of the flu to the National Health Laboratory. This is of course non-representative. Globally speaking, the situation has remained more or less stable over the past few years, with a moderate number of infections.'
Health in Luxembourg
Luxembourg takes its citizens' health very seriously. As a result, the Grand Duchy leads global and European rankings on this matter. According to latest figures published in the 'Legatum Prosperity Index 2017' of the Legatum Institute, Luxembourg's health system is considered to be the best in the world, for the second year running. 95.2% of Luxembourg's inhabitants have health care coverage.
(Article written by the editorial team of the portal at www.luxembourg.lu. The interview was slightly shortened)