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Flu Vaccine Facts: Stay Informed and Protected this Flu Season

Stay Ahead of the Curve: Why You Need the Flu Vaccine

Learn about the impact, effectiveness, and safety of the flu vaccine. Find out who should get vaccinated and discover crucial information that can keep you and your loved ones safe. 

What is the Flu Vaccine?

Influenza, commonly known as the flu, is a contagious respiratory illness that is caused by influenza viruses. The flu season can cause mild to severe illness, hospitalisation, and in some instances, even death. The flu is a significant public health concern as every year millions of people worldwide are affected by it.

In Singapore, the Northern Hemisphere flu season typically occurs between the months of November and February. Additionally, the Southern Hemisphere flu season occurs between the months of May and July. Vaccination is the most effective way to protect yourself and those around you, so it is important to get vaccinated annually before flu season begins. The flu vaccine contains several strains of the flu virus that are associated with each season. It is regularly updated to combat the constantly changing flu viruses. By stimulating the body’s immune system, the flu vaccine provides protection for the upcoming flu season. 

Should I Get the Flu Vaccine?

People with the flu mainly spread it through droplets when they cough, sneeze, or even speak. However, flu viruses can also spread through touching surfaces or objects contaminated with the virus and subsequently touching the eyes, mouth, or nose. It is essential to get the vaccine at least 2 weeks before flu season for it to be effective. 

Symptoms of the flu may include:

  • Fever 
  • Chills 
  • Cough 
  • Runny nose
  • Fatigue  
  • Body aches  

The vaccine is updated regularly to fight flu viruses that are constantly changing. It works by stimulating your body’s immune system to:

  • Produce the antibodies that are necessary to fight against flu viruses
  • The antibodies that are produced will provide protection for the upcoming flu season

In Singapore, the vaccine is available, and free, for eligible groups including:

  • Children aged 6 months to 5 years of age
  • Pregnant women 
  • Individuals with certain medical conditions
  • Individuals over the age of 65 

For everyone else, the flu vaccine is widely available at clinics and hospitals for a fee.

The flu vaccine is considered the most effective way to prevent the flu. It is also important to reduce the severity of illness in the event that you do get the flu virus. 

The National Adult Immunisation Schedule (NAIS) in Singapore recommends annual flu vaccinations for individuals with chronic medical conditions and over the age of 65. 

Protecting High-Risk Groups 

Getting vaccinated ensures that you will protect those around you, particularly high-risk groups and individuals with weakened immune systems, from the flu. Such high-risk individuals are more susceptible to complications from the flu, as well as other illnesses such as pneumonia, bronchitis, and sinus infections, which can lead to hospitalisation and in some instances, death.

The following individuals are considered at high-risk and may be more susceptible to complications arising from an influenza infection:

  • Infants under 6 months to children under the age of 5
  • Individuals with chronic disorders such as lung, heart, or metabolic diseases 
  • Individuals with compromised immune systems  
  • Pregnant women 
  • Individuals over the age of 65

Debunking Myths And Misconceptions About Flu Vaccines

There are many myths and misconceptions surrounding the flu vaccine, which may prevent some individuals from getting vaccinated. These myths and the debunked explanations include:

  • The flu vaccine can give you the flu: This is not true, as the vaccine contains inactivated or weakened forms of viruses that cannot cause the flu or transmit infections. Some individuals may experience mild side effects, such as soreness at the injection site or a low-grade fever, but these are not symptoms of the flu.
  • The flu vaccine is ineffective and only protects against certain strains of flu viruses: While it is true that the vaccine is not 100% effective, it can still provide significant protection against the flu and reduce the severity of illness, if you do get sick. The efficacy also varies depending on the age or health status of the individual receiving the vaccine. 
  • A flu vaccine is not necessary as the flu is just a harmless infection: Respiratory infections associated with the flu can cause severe complications and in some instances may cause death. As such, it is important for high-risk individuals, as well as their caregivers, and those around them to receive flu vaccines. 

Stay ahead of the curve by getting vaccinated to stay healthy and protect yourself and your loved ones from the flu. Consult your family doctor for more information today. 

References: 

  1. Influenza vaccine (no date) HealthHub. Available at: https://www.healthhub.sg/a-z/medications/367/Influenza-Vaccine (Accessed: 06 June 2023).
  2. Seasonal flu vaccines (2022) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent/flushot.htm (Accessed: 06 June 2023).

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