Keep the Flu at Bay: More Reasons Why You Should Get the Flu Vaccination During the COVID-19 Season
Feeling feverish, a cough or runny nose, sore throat – these are symptoms which put us on high alert nowadays. Sometimes, it could be influenza, also known as the flu.
Anyone can be susceptible to the flu throughout the year, but the peak seasons where many people catch the influenza virus are April to July, and November to January.
We often underestimate the flu, and do not feel the need for protection against it. Here are more reasons why you should get the flu vaccination during the COVID-19 season, and some myths concerning it as well!Myth #1: If I have taken the COVID-19 vaccination, I don’t have to take the flu shot, as COVID-19 has replaced the flu.
It looks as though the flu had been wiped out and taken over by COVID-19. However, that is not the case. Influenza and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses. The milder flu season observed might be a result of mask wearing, social distancing and increased personal hygiene etc. – public health measures which work towards reducing the spread of both COVID-19 and the flu.
It is important to note that influenza and COVID-19 symptoms can be similar; and being vaccinated against the flu would help to reduce the risk of contracting influenza and its complications, minimising diagnostic issues.
It would also curb any widespread transmission of the influenza virus, as well as reduce the number of people subject to COVID-19 testing and measures, which in turn alleviates the strain on the healthcare sector.Myth #2: I can’t get COVID-19 and the flu at the same time.
It is in fact possible to be co-infected with both COVID-19 and the flu simultaneously. One possible explanation concerning this is when the immune system is weakened from one infection, it allows easy access for another infection to penetrate it. The phenomenon, named “flurona”, can have severe impact especially on those with underlying health issues.
The best way to guard against a possible “twin-demic” of COVID-19 and the flu is to be inoculated against them.Myth #3: It is more important to be protected against COVID-19 than influenza. After all, it’s just a flu.
We often perceive the flu to be a mild ailment. However, influenza can lead to other complications such as pneumonia, bronchitis, myocarditis (inflammation of the heart), encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) etc. and in severe cases, even death. Myth #4: I have already taken my flu vaccine last year. The annual flu vaccines are the same anyway.
The flu viruses are constantly evolving thus the flu vaccines are adjusted annually to ensure highest possible efficacy against the latest strains detected. This implies that vaccines taken more than a year ago would not be able to defend your body against the influenza strain which is currently circulating.
This latest Southern Hemisphere 2022 flu vaccine protects you against 4 strains of flu virus, namely the Influenza A/Victoria (H1N1), Influenza A/Darwin (H3N2) viruses and the Influenza B (Austria and Phuket) viruses. Out of the four strains, Influenza A/Darwin (H3N2) and Influenza B/Austria (B/Victoria lineage)-like viruses were not found in the Northern Hemisphere 2021/2022 flu vaccine.
As with the COVID-19 vaccine, our body’s immunity against the virus may wane over time – this is another key reason we should go for an annual immunisation against the flu. Myth #5: Only those who are considered vulnerable should take the flu vaccine.
Flu vaccinations are recommended for everyone above the age of six months. There are certain groups of people who are at increased risk of influenza-related complications, such as persons above 65 years and older, adults with chronic medical conditions (which includes heart conditions, asthma, diabetes, liver and kidney disease), persons with a compromised immune system, adults receiving long term aspirin therapy, as well as women at all stages of pregnancy.
Even if you do not belong to any of the above groups, being vaccinated against the flu would help reduce the possibility of virus spread and protect those around you, especially those who cannot be vaccinated and don’t have the immunity (such as babies younger than six months) and those who are more susceptible to serious flu illnesses. Myth #6: I am not travelling thus I don’t need the flu vaccine.
Contrary to the belief that the flu vaccine is only needed for people who are travelling, the influenza virus knows no “borders” and circulates all year round in many countries, including tropical countries like Singapore, where it is usually warm, humid and rainy.Myth #7: I am worried about the side effects. Perhaps it is better to get the flu than the flu vaccine.
No, any flu infection carries with it a risk of serious complications. It is better to protect yourself against the risk of such complications, which can lead to life threatening consequences.
The side effects of the influenza vaccine are generally mild and dissipate within a few days. Common side effects may include soreness, redness, and/or swelling at the injection site; headache; fever; nausea and muscle aches.
A mild painkiller medication (e.g. paracetamol) which you are not allergic to may be taken to help relieve any discomfort. You can also place a cold, wet cloth over the injection site to help reduce any pain, redness, or swelling.
Some individuals may be at risk of developing allergic reactions and we recommend seeking your doctor’s advice before any vaccination.
Keeping ourselves and our loved ones protected against the flu is especially important during this COVID-19 season. Consult your doctor and make your vaccination appointment today.