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You can catch the flu throughout the year in Singapore, but there are two peak flu seasons — April to July, and November to January, when the influenza virus makes a lot of people sick.

Don’t Underestimate the Flu


For many, the flu is treated as an inconvenience rather than a deadly killer. While most people recover from the flu, others suffer grave consequences.

A recent newspaper report[1] cited a 38-year-old Singaporean woman who was almost killed by the flu. She had brushed aside prolonged discomforts such as fever and body aches, and continued working instead of resting at home. The flu virus attacked her heart, and she was rushed to the hospital for cardiac failure. Her heart had swelled to twice its size! Fortunately, she was saved. But it took six months of treatment for her to recover.

She was lucky, as her fate could have turned out very differently. Each year, up to half a million people worldwide die from seasonal flu[2]. In Singapore alone, influenza-related deaths strike 15 out of every 100,000 persons[1].

Related: Shoo, Flu!

Protect Your Family Against Flu


A simple way to protect you and your family from the flu is to practise good personal hygiene habits like hand washing, and F.I.G.H.T. the spread of influenza with an annual round of flu vaccination.

Flu vaccinations are recommended for everyone over the age of six months, so even your baby can take a flu jab. In particular, those with a higher risk of flu-related complications, which can include severe and possibly even fatal consequences, would benefit from the protection of flu vaccination.

If,

  • your parents or grandparents are above 65 years old,

  • your wife or family member is pregnant,

  • your children (aged 6 months to 18 years) are receiving long-term aspirin therapy and therefore at risk of developing Reye syndrome after influenza infection,

  • you or someone in your family have chronic illnesses of the lungs, heart, kidney, nerves, liver, blood, or chronic metabolic diseases such as diabetes, or HIV etc.

Then they would benefit even more from the added protection. So round up your family to the clinic for a flu vaccination before you start packing your travel suitcases.

If you always buy travel insurance before going abroad, think of flu vaccinations as a form of insurance for your holiday. Opt for peace of mind, knowing that there is a lower chance of you or your family missing out on holiday plans, or worse, falling sick when you are in foreign lands.

Related: Keep Germs Away

Myths and Facts about Flu Vaccination


1. I got the flu vaccine last year, so I do not need to get the shot again later this year.

The Health Promotion Board (HPB) recommends yearly vaccination to protect yourself and others from flu. It is because flu viruses are constantly evolving. Also, your immunity to flu viruses may decline over time, so an annual vaccination is recommended as the best protection against flu.

2. I am young and healthy, so I do not need to get the flu shot.

Influenza is a contagious disease and can lead to serious illness and complications such as pneumonia, sinus infections etc. Healthy people can also spread the virus to others who are particularly susceptible, especially young children, elderly and those with weakened immune systems.

3. The flu vaccine will give me the flu.

No, a flu shot cannot cause flu illness. A flu vaccination helps to reduce the severity of symptoms and complications from flu. Those who believe they came down with the flu after getting vaccinated were most likely suffering from an unrelated upper-respiratory sickness or already were infected with flu when they received the shot. It takes about two weeks for the vaccine to start preventing flu.

4. The flu vaccine has many side effects.

The majority of side effects are mild. The most common complaints from the flu shot are soreness, redness, tenderness or swelling at the injection site. Low-grade fever, headache and muscle aches also may occur in some individuals.

5. We’re already mid-way through the flu season. Getting a flu shot now won’t help.

While experts say it’s best to get flu shots as soon as they become available, getting a flu shot can be helpful as long as flu viruses are circulating.

6. It is better to get the flu than the flu vaccine

No. Flu can be a serious disease, particularly among young children, older adults, and people with certain chronic health conditions, such as asthma, heart disease or diabetes. Any flu infection can carry a risk of serious complications, hospitalisation or death, even among otherwise healthy children and adults. Therefore, getting vaccinated is a safer choice than risking illness to obtain immune protection.

Other Information on Flu Vaccine

Vaccinations are offered at hospitals, polyclinics and GP clinics.

You can use your Medisave account (up to $500 per year per account) for flu vaccinations on persons with higher risk of developing influenza-related complications, as well as severe pneumococcal disease.


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References

  1. Gan, E. (2017, Aug 16). When flu turns fatal. TODAY Online.
    Retrieved October 2017 from http://www.todayonline.com/daily-focus/health/when-flu-turns-fatal

  2. World Health Organisation. (2016, Nov). Influenza (Seasonal) [Website].
    Retrieved October 2017 from http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs211/en/