Don’t let the Flu slow you down this season!
It is a contagious acute respiratory tract infection caused by a group of viruses called Influenza viruses. It is a serious disease and is often confused with other illnesses, especially the common cold. Influenza can cause serious complications like pneumonia. Every year, children and adults die from influenza and its complications all over the world.
Signs and symptoms
The flu can last a week or more. Symptoms are worst during 2 or 3 days. Symptoms are:
- Sudden onset of high-grade fever/chills
- Headache, body aches and extreme tiredness
- Sore throat and/or dry, hacking cough
- Stuffy, runny nose
- Mild pink eye
- Croup, wheezing and breathlessness
- Vomiting and diarrhoea
Who are at risk?
Children, especially those younger than 5 years, are at higher risk for severe flu-related complications. The flu vaccine offers the best defence against getting the flu and spreading it to others. Getting vaccinated can reduce flu illnesses, doctor’s visits, missed work and school days, and prevent flu-related hospitalisations and deaths in children
The risk of complications is also high amongst pregnant women, the elderly, individuals with specific chronic medical conditions such as HIV/AIDS, asthma, and chronic heart or lung diseases, and health-care professionals.
How does it transmit?
- Respiratory (droplet) route: Contact with large droplets that form when a child talks, coughs, or sneezes.
- Contact with the respiratory secretions from or objects contaminated by children who carry influenza virus.
The Department of Health recommends annual vaccination for:
- Infants older than 6 months of age
- All Children and adolescents
- Healthy adults
Priority is given to people who:
- Are aged over 65
- Are pregnant & passed the first trimester of pregnancy
- Have diabetes
- Have chronic lung and cardiac conditions
- Have immunosuppression
- Are on long-term Aspirin therapy and chronic renal dysfunction including dialysis
- Are travelling to an area with current outbreak
- Are household contacts of people who are in the high-risk group
Who Should Not Be Vaccinated?
- People who are severely allergic to eggs, chicken protein or neomycin
- History of Guillain Barre syndrome following a prior influenza is an absolute contraindication.
- Children younger than 6 months of age (Influenza vaccine is not approved for use in this age group)
- It should be given with caution in moderate to high febrile illness.
Flu is a disease that can spread rapidly and is caused by different types of virus strains that can change every year. This is why you or your child may need to be vaccinated every year. The greatest risk of catching flu is during the cold months. If you or your child was not vaccinated in the autumn, it is still possible to do it until spring since you or your child runs the risk of catching flu until then. Your doctor will be able to recommend the best time to be vaccinated.
The vaccine is an intramuscular injection, and some children, 6 months through 8 years of age, may require two doses of influenza vaccine. Children who are 6 months through 8 years old getting vaccinated for the first time, and those who have only previously gotten one dose of vaccine, should get two doses of vaccine this season. All children who have previously gotten two doses of vaccine (at any time) only need one dose of vaccine this season. The second dose should be given at least 28 days after the first dose. The first dose “primes” the immune system; the second dose provides immune protection. Children who only get one dose but need two doses can have reduced or no protection from a single dose of flu vaccine.
These are safe vaccines and give good protection against influenza or flu. So, visit your doctor today and don’t let flu slow down you and your kids this season.