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Flu season hits Switzerland: Should you get immunised?

Each year, hundreds of thousands of Swiss residents fall ill with the flu and many develop serious complications. How can you protect yourself?

Flu season hits Switzerland: Should you get immunised?

When exactly is the “flu season”?

Typically, it starts about December, peaks in February and starts abating in March.

Is the flu very contagious?

Since it is a viral infection, it spreads very quickly. Last year alone, about 210,000 flu-related doctor visits were registered in Switzerland. Several hundred people die from the complications related to this illness each year.

What does the Swiss medical community say about the flu vaccine?

The Federal Office of Public Health recommends flu (influenza) vaccines for people who are at increased risk of complications from this illness. Medical and nursing staff, as well as people working in day-care centres and in nursing homes, are also urged to get immunised.

Isn’t flu harmless?

Young, healthy people usually weather the flu without serious consequences. However, there is a risk that they spread the virus to those around them.

Who has the highest risk of developing flu-related complications?

Generally speaking, those with undeveloped or weakened immune system, for example children under five, people over 65 years of age, and cancer patients. Also, those with chronic illnesses, including respiratory or heart disease, are more prone to developing complications such as pneumonia.

Are there risks associated with the flu vaccine?

Some people have known allergies to the vaccine’s ingredients, or might develop flu-like symptoms as a reaction to the shot. But most side effects are mild and temporary, such as redness or swelling at the site of the injection.

Does the vaccine provide total protection against influenza?  

Research shows that immunisation reduces the risk of flu by between 40 and 60 percent, also lowering the risk of complications. In other studies, the vaccine has been shown to reduce the severity and duration of this illness.

Where can I get immunised in Switzerland?

Your doctor’s office is the best source of information. There are also pharmacies throughout the country that offer the flu jab.  






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For members


Reader question: How can I find a good lawyer in Switzerland?

Although you hope to never need one, sometimes you might have to seek legal advice in Switzerland. This is how to find it.

Reader question: How can I find a good lawyer in Switzerland?

When you move to a new country, including Switzerland, you have to look for a whole new network of professionals.

You may or may not have immediate need for the proverbial butcher, baker, and the candlestick maker, but sooner or later you will have to find other professionals, with the most essential one being a doctor.

READ MORE: What you should know about finding a doctor in Switzerland

Chances are you will also need, at one time or another, a legal counsel. That should in principle not be a problem as Switzerland has an abundance of lawyers — 7,317 currently practicing in the country, according to European data.

The question of how to find one that best suits your needs depends on many factors — for instance, what kind of legal advice you are seeking (estate planning, inheritance, divorce, etc), whether you speak the language of your region or need an English-speaking attorney,  and whether you can pay (the often exorbitant) fees, or need free counselling instead.

Speaking of fees, the hourly rates vary widely from one lawyer or legal practice to another, with some charging as little as 100 francs or as much as 1,000.

Much depends on the lawyer’s location — with the ones practicing in large cities like Zurich and Geneva being more expensive than their counterparts in small towns or rural regions  — the area of specialisation and general reputation — the more prominent the attorney is with a roster of famous or well-heeled clients, the higher fees they will typically charge.

An important thing to know is that, depending on the advice you are seeking, you may not need a lawyer at all, but rather a public notary; in Switzerland, these professionals perform many tasks that only attorneys can do in other countries, such as drawing contracts and establishing other legal documents.

Here are some tips on how to find a lawyer or a notary that best fits your needs:

Word of mouth

As with any other services, personal recommendations from people you know and trust are best.

This will spare you the effort of “investigating” the person, such as researching their credentials and feedback from previous clients — the due diligence process that everyone should undertake before hiring any professional.

Professional associations

If you don’t know anyone who can recommend an attorney, do your own research.

Professional organisations such as the Swiss Bar Association (SBA) and the Swiss Federation of Notaries are good resources, as they both allow you to look for professionals in or near your place of residence.

English-speaking attorneys

Many Swiss lawyers and notaries, especially those practicing in large urban centres where many foreign residents live, speak English.

But if you want to make sure yours does, the UK government put together a list of English speaking attorneys in Switzerland, which should help you with your search.

‘Free’ legal advice

In principle, all legal assistance comes at a cost, except for exceptional cases, which are defined by each canton.

SBA has a canton-by-canton list, where the designation “GRATIS JUDICATURE” stands for “free legal advice”.

However, there is also such a thing in Switzerland as “legal protection insurance” (Rechtsschutzversicherungen in German, protection juridique in French, and protezione giuridica in Italian).

It covers attorney and other associated fees if you undertake court action against someone, are sued, or simply need legal advice.

There are two different types of legal protection insurance — one specifically for traffic accidents and the other for all other matters. Sometimes they are combined.

Typically, this insurance covers costs of legal representation associated with contract disputes, employment, loans and debts, healthcare, housing, retail purchases, and travel.

The annual cost of this insurance, which you can purchase from practically every carrier in Switzerland, is minimal, especially if you consider how much you’d have to spend if you hired an attorney yourself.

Another benefit of these policies is that a lawyer will be assigned to you by the insurance company so you won’t have the headache of looking for one on your own.

This article provides more information about this insurance:

EXPLAINED: Why you need ‘legal protection insurance’ in Switzerland