German trains add flu vaccine to regular schedule

Written by By Betsy Fisher, CNN

In a first for German railways, anti-flu medication will be added to the regularly scheduled train, tram and bus schedules during the seasonal flu season, increasing the chance that passengers can catch the flu if they feel ill.

Hans-Peter Dietrich, member of the board of Germany’s Federal Office for Public Health, announced on Thursday that Munich will be the first city in the country to use a system to check if passengers are likely to be infected with the influenza virus.

A conductor or train driver can fill out a questionnaire on the train which is embedded on the public transport company’s website.

The questionnaire will ask the train operator if the passenger has recently had “prolonged influenza-like illness,” said a spokesman for Deutsche Bahn , Germany’s national railway. If the person is infectious with the flu, he or she will be screened by Bayer at the railway station entrance, as is often the case in North America.

The survey will also ask if the passenger has recently visited any areas where people are believed to be infected by the flu, and what medications the passenger has been taking. If they have influenza-like symptoms, the passenger will not be allowed to travel by train, tram or bus, or given money for their trip.

The same questionnaire will be used for other Deutsche Bahn services, such as railways to towns and cities in Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg and Rhineland-Palatinate, as well as to public transport stations in Berlin, the southern German city of Leipzig and Berlin’s international airport.

The spokesperson told CNN the questionnaire is confidential but that it is available for anyone to see online. The site also asks for the train operator’s contact information.

The spokesperson said Deutsche Bahn will start using the system in Munich on February 13.

The company is working with Bayer to ensure the questions are accurate and common sense is not lost.

“It will be better to ask a question that will be likely to identify those passengers who are not happy to be included in the influenza check,” said the spokesperson.

The spokesman said the campaign could not be carried out in the previous flu season but said: “This is especially for people who are afraid to leave the house and to go to work. If all else fails, the office will ask for a doctor’s note.”

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