Vaccines Bring Us Closer

Influenza, commonly referred to as the Flu, is a viral infection which attacks the respiratory system (nose, throat and lungs) in infected persons. The National Influenza Vaccination Week is observed annually from December 6-12 since 2016, when the flu was recognized as a major public health concern. It caused millions of infections which led to hospitalization of hundreds of thousands of people, without regard to age and whether one was previously healthy or not. A number of people have succumbed to the illness, yet it is preventable mainly through vaccination. The observance therefore aims to highlight the importance of immunization against the flu, especially during this season.  


The flu can cause mild to severe illness, and rarely lead to death. It usually has a sudden onset, and most individuals tend to experience fever (raised body temperature), cough, sore throat, runny or congested nose, headaches, muscle aches and fatigue. In most people with adequate immunity (protection), the infection is usually self-limiting and subsides in a few days. However, some develop complications which may lead to death if not treated promptly. These include pneumonia (usually by bacterial micro-organisms), sinus and ear infections, heart disease, muscle damage, and failure of multiple organs such as the kidney 


Of particular concern are the elderly, expectant women, people with chronic (life-long) diseases such as asthma, diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure), heart and lung disease among others. These are termed high risk groups as they are highly susceptible to not only the complications of the flu, but also rapid worsening of their pre-existing condition. For example, asthmatic patients may have an increase in the number of asthma attacks while diabetics experience difficulty in controlling their blood sugar levels. The benefits of receiving the flu vaccine far outweigh the mild side effects that may occur with vaccination (such as pain at the injection site), especially among this group of people.  


It is key that we understand that the flu, common cold and Covid-19 infections are distinct disease entities caused by different viruses. This is the case despite them having an almost synonymous disease manifestation (signs and symptoms). The Flu and Covid-19 have individual vaccines, hence vaccination against one will not serve as a substitute or replacement for the other. Both vaccines are recommended, and can actually be administered in the same setting.  


The flu vaccine comes in different forms, either a nasal spray or the injectable type. So, what are the benefits of getting immunized against the Flu? The most critical perk is the protection acquired against infection with the virus, and if you do get sick, the severity of illness will be minimal therefore reducing the risk of hospitalization and mortality. This holiday, protect yourself and your loved ones by getting a flu vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all persons aged 6 months and above should receive the vaccine, not only during this period but even beyond, as it is never too late to vaccinate. Book an appointment on today and get the flu vaccine. 

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