Avoid The Flu: Get A Shot For Influenza

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About 400,000 Filipinos were affected by influenza last year. It's the major cause of absenteeism from school and work and, if you have experienced having a flu in the past, it's something you will not relish having again.

Unnecessary hassle

You can learn from my experience with influenza.

I once saw a patient in my clinic who had fever, muscle pain, and lack of appetite for 3 days. I gave him a diagnosis of the flu and advised him on what to do.

After a week, I woke up with my muscles and joints feeling sore. I had a slight fever and my food seemed to have a bitter taste. It didn't take me long to make myself a diagnosis: influenza. I had to take an absence from my clinic. I wouldn't want to pass on the flu to my patients!

But pass on the flu I did. A few days later, the children at home had fever. They couldn't go to school for several days because they were down with influenza.

Soon, everyone in the household was down with influenza.

A lesson for everyone

After that bout with influenza, I decided that everyone in the household would have the flu vaccine every summer. To my mind, the price of the vaccine is worth the unnecessary inconvenience (not to mention that wasted feeling when you have the flu) that it spares us.

Who should be vaccinated?

You need not wait to be sick of influenza before you realize the benefits of the vaccine. I reproduced the guidelines below to help you decide if you or your family members need the vaccine. I realize now (belatedly) that I fall under guideline number three and the rest of the family under number four. Doctors are such hardheaded creatures!

The following are advised to have vaccination against influenza:

  1. Persons who are at increased risk of complications.
    • Persons 50 years or above
    • Children 6 months to 23 months
    • Adults and children with chronic health conditions:
      • Chronic health disease (congestive heart failure, hypertensive cardiovascular disease, valvular heart disease, rheumatic heart disease, stroke)
      • Chronic lung disease (COPD, asthma, bronchitis)
      • Chronic renal dysfunction
  2. Residents of nursing homes and chronic care facilities.
  3. Persons who can transmit influenza to those at risk.
    • Health care workers and other personnel of outpatient care settings, hospitals, nursing home and chronic care facilities
    • Hosehold contacts and caregivers of persons at high risk of complications for influenza
  4. Adults and children who want to avoid getting influenza.

When to get the vaccine

The best time to get the vaccine for influenza is before the start of the flu season. In the Philippines, the flu season coincides with the rainy season. It is best to get the vaccine between February and June. You may still get the vaccine outside these months. The immunity lasts until the year's flu season (because of the change in the prevalent strains of the virus every year). The vaccine must be given every year.

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