Influenza (Flu) Vaccination: The Best Way to Avoid Getting the Flu
Still unsure if you should get a flu shot? Here are eight facts from the professionals at Singapore General Hospital that you should know.
According to the Ministry of Health, “Influenza, also known as the
flu, is an infection caused by influenza viruses. Despite being commonly confused with the common cold, which is caused by other respiratory viruses, influenza is usually more severe.”
Here’re some top tips from the doctors at the Occupational and Environmental Medicine Unit of Singapore General Hospital (SGH) that will help you
make a decision about vaccination.
The influenza vaccine contains inactivated virus. And dead viruses can’t make you sick. But they do stimulate your immune system to make antibodies that would protect you from the influenza viruses that you have been vaccinated against.
Not only is it safe for pregnant women to get the vaccine, it is essential. Because pregnant women have a higher risk of developing complications from influenza.
Most influenza vaccines contain a small amount of egg protein because the viruses used to make the vaccines have been incubated in eggs. However, severe reactions in people with egg allergies are rare. A recent CDC study found that only one in a million gets a life-threatening allergic reaction.
Air travel speeds up the spread of diseases — including influenza — just like how SARS was in Hong Kong one day and in Singapore within four hours. Getting vaccinated before you travel means you won't bring the flu virus back to Singapore and infect your family and friends.
According to studies, as many as three out of 10 people carrying the virus have no symptoms of influenza. This means you could be spreading the bug to others — like your children, elderly parents, friends and co-workers — without knowing it.
It can “live” for more than a day on hard surfaces. Hence, it's always recommended that you should wash your hands before you eat or touch any part of your face.
The influenza virus mutates frequently. So this year's “popular” strains of viruses would be different from last year's. This means the flu shot you had last year would not protect you from the current influenza. That's why CDC recommends an annual vaccination every year.
The more people get vaccinated, the less likely that influenza can spread among a community. The CDC estimates that the risk of influenza in the overall population can be reduced by as much as 60 percent. This protects those who cannot be vaccinated and don't have immunity such as babies younger than six months.
The World Health Organisation estimates that influenza kills as many as half a million people worldwide every year. The 1918 influenza pandemic, our worst so far, killed about 50 million people worldwide.
Make that decision now to get yourself and your loved ones vaccinated against influenza.
This article was last reviewed on
Wednesday, November 22, 2023
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