In the new specialist outpatient clinic at the Medical University of Vienna's Institute of Specific Prophylaxis and Tropical Medicine, patients from at-risk groups will be provided with customised care. These at-risk groups include people with cancer, autoimmune diseases, immunosuppression or immune deficiencies, people who have had transplants, who are obese, pregnant women, people who have allergies or even people who have migration-specific needs (many migrants have had different or no vaccination programmes in their home country).
A weakened body needs special protection
Chronic disease and ongoing treatment can often make the immune system weaker, and these people have an increased risk of developing infections. As a result, it is important to protect precisely these people against infections through vaccination. At the same time, the response to vaccinations can be reduced due to the weakened immune system. "Our aim is to offer these people the best possible personalised prophylactic vaccination support in a way that includes their underlying health condition and existing treatments," explains Ursula Wiedermann-Schmidt, Head of the Institute of Specific Prophylaxis and Tropical Medicine and Clinical Lead for the newly founded outpatient clinic at the MedUni Vienna.
Pregnant women are also among the at-risk groups, since the mother's immune system is geared towards protecting the unborn child, making it more prone to certain infections. Both for the mother and for her child, protection against infections is therefore especially important. Vaccinations such as those against influenza or whooping cough not only protect pregnant women from serious illnesses, but they also provide effective immunoprotection for the newborn.
The special outpatient clinic at the MedUni Vienna will check which vaccine is the most effective and tolerated for each individual and also determine whether adequate vaccination protection is being built up. The most up-to-date scientific data will be used along with new tests to create tailored vaccination schedules. "The one-to-one explanation of the risks and options of having various vaccination treatments is a time-consuming process and is often neglected in the everyday whirl of prescriptions and clinics. Added to this is the fact that there are very few study results on vaccinations in these at-risk groups and there is a shortage of evidence-based vaccination recommendations for clinical practice," says Wiedermann-Schmidt. "Based on our key focal areas of research in this field, this specialist clinic can address the individual needs of each patient and guarantee in-depth care and support." Close collaboration with treating physicians and hospitals will be strived for. "It is an offer to our colleagues to refer affected patients in at-risk situations to us and/or consult us on specialist requirements," explains Wiedermann-Schmidt.
All other people can be immunised in the outpatient vaccinations clinic too, in accordance with the Austrian vaccinations programme. Employees and medical students at the Medical University of Vienna can also receive the vaccinations recommended for healthcare personnel here (see www.meduniwien.ac.at/hp/tropenmedizin/ambulanz-diagnostik/). Healthcare employees in particular are exposed to a great number of pathogens and must be vaccinated accordingly, not just to protect their own health, but also the health of their patients. The MedUni Vienna is adopting a pioneering role in this that other healthcare institutions, hospitals or universities should follow. Wiedermann-Schmidt highlights the dual function of immunisation: "With a vaccination, you're not only protecting yourself, but also all the other people in your personal environment."
Open Doors Day
To mark the opening of the Vaccinations Clinic, the Institute of Specific Prophylaxis and Tropical Medicine is organising an Open Doors Day on 22nd October 2014 (Kinderspitalgasse 15, 1090 Vienna, ground floor). From 1.30 p.m. onwards, anyone interested is welcome to come along to get advice and vaccinations. At the initiative of the Austrian Chamber of Pharmacists, the first 100 influenza vaccines will be given free of charge.
Five research clusters at the MedUni Vienna
A total of five research clusters have been set up at the MedUni Vienna in which the MedUni Vienna is increasing its focus in the fields of fundamental and clinical research. The research clusters include medical imaging, cancer research / oncology, cardiovascular medicine, medical neurosciences and immunology. The specialist outpatient clinic at the Institute of Specific Prophylaxis and Tropical Medicine falls under the remit of the immunology research cluster.