Flu vaccination for adults and senior citizens

The Swiss population is anything but united when it comes to getting vaccinated. The topic of vaccination is highly controversial in our country. We can explain everything for you. You can then decide for yourself which vaccinations make sense for you.

29.09.2020 Lara Brunner

Seasonal flu is an illness triggered by the influenza virus. Particularly in the winter months, a significant portion of the Swiss population suffers from various forms of flu-like illness. While all of these are viral infections, they are not to be confused with the influenza virus. Flu triggered by the influenza virus can be more serious than an infection caused by other viruses. Contracting the influenza virus can lead to serious complications. It’s worth noting that the influenza virus mutates every year, which is why a new vaccine needs to be developed annually.

The influenza virus is transmitted by airborne droplets, i.e. sneezing and coughing, as well as by physical contact with contaminated objects such as door handles.

But with the right precautions, we can all avoid getting the flu. Maintaining high standards of hygiene (e.g. washing our hands regularly) and avoiding close contact with people displaying symptoms of flu can reduce the risk of contracting the virus. A healthy diet and exercise can also have a positive effect on the immune system and lower the individual risk of infection.

The Harding Centre for Risk Literacy at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development has conducted scientific studies to set out the potential risks and benefits of the flu vaccination and has presented these in a series of model calculations.

For every 1,000 vaccinated people (blue bar), 3 to 125 people contracted flu caused by the influenza virus and 77 to 313 people contracted a flu-like illness over a maximum period of one year. By contrast, for every 1,000 people who were not vaccinated (red bar), 13 to 125 people contracted flu caused by the influenza virus and 94 to 377 people contracted a flu-like illness. With or without vaccination, the same number of people consulted a doctor because of respiratory illness.

The Harding Centre for Risk Literacy also examined the potential risks and benefits of influenza vaccination for senior citizens.

For every 1,000 senior citizens who were not vaccinated (red bar), 39 to 98 people contracted a flu-like illness over one year. 4 to 17 people were hospitalised for influenza or pneumonia. 1 to 22 senior citizens who were not vaccinated died.

For every 1,000 vaccinated senior citizens (blue bar), 21 to 84 people contracted a flu-like illness over one year. 3 to 13 people were hospitalised for influenza or pneumonia. 5 to 14 vaccinated senior citizens died.

More information

What should you do if you think you have flu?

COVID-19 can cause symptoms similar to those of flu. If you have any cold or flu symptoms, you should stay at home. Get tested for COVID-19 or call your doctor to discuss what to do next. Even if your COVID-19 test result is negative, you should avoid contact with other people for at least 24 hours after your symptoms have disappeared.

COVID-19: key facts at a glance

Who covers the costs for the flu vaccination?

Our basic insurance covers the costs of the flu vaccination (minus excess and deductible) for people at increased risk of complications from the flu. This group includes:

  • People over the age of 65
  • Pregnant women
  • Women who have given birth in the last four weeks
  • Premature babies from the age of six months and over, for the first two winters after birth
  • People with chronic illnesses such as bronchial asthma, diabetes or cancer
  • People in nursing homes
More information on basic insurance

In other cases, Helsana pays a contribution for the flu vaccination from the SANA, COMPLETA and COMPLETA EXTRA* supplementary insurance. SANA reimburses 75% of the costs for preventive measures, up to a maximum of CHF 500 per calendar year; COMPLETA covers 90% of such costs, up to a maximum of CHF 750. In addition to the cost contribution from COMPLETA, from COMPLETA EXTRA*, you receive 100% of the costs of preventive medical care, up to a maximum of CHF 500 per calendar year.

* Can only be taken out in combination with COMPLETA

More information

Read more

Whooping cough vaccination for children and adults
Get vaccinated or not? Whooping cough is a highly contagious bacterial infection. Especially for babies, the illness is life-threatening.
July 4, 2017

Antibiotics against coughs with phlegm? Here are the facts
Are antibiotics any use against coughs with phlegm? The latest scientific findings, readily understandable, in this video.
May 17, 2018


Find out more about current health issues and get all the information you need about our attractive offers, delivered by e-mail to read whenever it suits you. Our newsletter is free of charge and you can sign up here:


Herzlichen Dank für Ihre Anmeldung.
Sie haben soeben ein E-Mail mit einem Bestätigungslink erhalten. Bitte klicken Sie diesen an, um Ihre Anmeldung abzuschliessen.

Unfortunately an error has occurred.

We did not receive your information. Please try again later.