Monday, October 28, 2013

Ops... It's Influenza season again!

What is Influenza?
Influenza or the flu is a common, infectious respiratory disease that begins in your nose and throat.
It is highly contagious and can spread rapidly from person to person.
Human influenza, or the flu, is a respiratory infection caused by the influenza virus.

Symptoms and Risks of Influenza
Influenza typically starts with a headache, chills and cough, followed by fever, loss of appetite, muscle aches and fatigue, running nose, sneezing, watery eyes and throat irritation. Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea may also occur, especially in children.
Most people will recover from influenza within a week or ten days, but some - including those over 65 and adults and children with chronic conditions, such as diabetes and cancer - are at greater risk.

Influenza Statistics and What Do These Tell You?
Over a period of 31 seasons between 1976 and 2007, estimates of flu-associated deaths in the United States range from a low of about 3,000 to a high of about 49,000 people. During a regular flu season, about 90 percent of deaths occur in people 65 years and older. The “seasonal flu season” begins as early as October and last as late as March the next year.
During this time, flu viruses are circulating in the population. An annual seasonal flu vaccine (either the flu shot or the nasal-spray flu vaccine) is the best way to reduce the chances that you will get seasonal flu and spread it to others. When more people get vaccinated against the flu, less flu can spread through that community.

How Do Flu Vaccines Work?
Flu vaccines cause antibodies to develop in the body about two weeks after vaccination. These antibodies provide protection against infection with the viruses that are in the vaccine.
The vaccine increases a person's defence against the influenza virus. It works by introducing very small amounts of viral components into the body. These components are enough to stimulate the production of antibodies (cells designed to attack that particular virus), which will remain in the body ready to attack that same virus in the future. The vaccine is used to prevent influenza for people over 6 months of age who want to reduce their chances of getting the flu.

Hence, we recommend annual vaccination for:
·        Any healthy person wanting protection from influenza
·        Children aged 6 months to 18 years who are being treated with acetylsalicylic acid (ASA) for long periods of time
·        Health care workers
·        Healthy children aged 6 to 23 months
·        Healthy pregnant women
·        Household contacts (including children) of people at high risk who cannot be vaccinated or who may not respond to vaccination
·        People at high risk of complications of influenza that are travelling to areas where influenza is likely circulating
·        People over 65 years of age
·        People who have HIV
·        People with certain chronic health conditions, such as asthma, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, cystic fibrosis, anemia, or kidney disease
·        Residents of nursing homes or chronic care facilities

Why Do I Need a Flu Vaccine Every Year?
A flu vaccine is needed every year because flu viruses are constantly changing. It’s not unusual for new flu viruses to appear each year. The flu vaccine is updated annually to keep up with the flu viruses as they change.
Also, multiple studies conducted over different seasons and across vaccine types and influenza virus sub-types have shown that the body’s immunity to influenza viruses (acquired either through natural infection or vaccination) declines over time.

Will I Still Get Seasonal Flu Even Though I Got a Flu Vaccine This Year?
Yes. There is still a possibility you could get the flu even if you got vaccinated. The ability of flu vaccine to protect a person depends on various factors, including the age and health status of the person being vaccinated.

If the viruses in the vaccine and the influenza viruses circulating in the community are closely matched, vaccine effectiveness is higher. If they are not closely matched, vaccine effectiveness can be reduced.
However, it’s important to remember that even when the viruses are not closely matched, the vaccine can still protect many people and prevent flu-related complications. Such protection is possible because antibodies made in response to the vaccine can provide some protection (called cross-protection) against different but related influenza viruses.

Can The Flu Vaccine Give Me the Flu?
No, a flu vaccine cannot cause flu illness. Flu vaccines that are administered with a needle are currently made in two ways, the vaccine is made either with:
·        Flu vaccine viruses that have been ‘inactivated’ and are therefore not infectious
·        With no flu vaccine viruses at all (which is the case for recombinant influenza vaccine)
The flu shot: The viruses in the flu shot are killed (inactivated), so you cannot get the flu from a flu shot.

However, some minor side effects may occur, e.g. soreness, redness or swelling where the shot was given and low grade fever.

For more inquiries about influenza or flu vaccination, please contact +603-79601211 or write to us at

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