The World Health Organization set a target for the influenza vaccination rate for 2006 of more than 50% of the elderly population and an increase to more than 75% by 2010. These rates have thus far not been achieved in the old German states. In the current issue of Deutsches Ärzteblatt International (Dtsch Arztebl Int 2010; 107: 845) the working group around Annicka M. Reuss presents rates from flu seasons past.
Germany’s Standing Vaccination Committee (STIKO) recommends annual vaccinations against seasonal influenza. The risk groups for the infection, which usually peaks in January and February, include those older than 60 years of age. Compared with other European countries, Germany has the lowest vaccination rate for these persons. All vaccinations reimbursed by the statutory health insurers are captured by the associations of health insurance physicians (KV) and passed on to the Robert Koch Institute as part of the KV sentinel project. Reuss et al. extracted from this data pool the influenza vaccination rates from areas covered by 14 associations of statutory health insurance physicians for the influenza seasons 2004/05, 2005/06, and 2006/07. Their analysis showed that vaccination rates for seasonal influenza in these years were 45-50% and therefore did not meet the criteria set out by the World Health Organization. The situation in individual German states was heterogeneous; the east German states had better results.