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Is the Flu Vaccination only for the Elderly?

October to March is flu season, which means at this time of year people are more susceptible to getting the flu and falling ill, sometimes for up to 12 days. This can be easily prevented by getting the flu vaccination. However, many people wonder if the flu vaccination is only for the elderly. Dr. Brian McNaull from Family Medical Practice answers this question and other commonly asked queries relating to the flu.

 

1) Is the flu vaccination only for the elderly?

 

No. The flu vaccine is highly recommended for those at most risk — children, elderly and those with chronic medical conditions i.e. chronic heart, kidney, diabetes and lung conditions since the flu may exacerbate these conditions. However, even healthy people can get very sick from the flu and spread it to others. Hence the recommendation is to vaccinate all age groups.

 

2) Do children need to be vaccinated?

 

Yes, children are at a higher risk of suffering, even more so for those under five years, and especially under two years. The vaccine is not recommended for children under six months.

 

3) Could you die from having the flu?

 

Yes, the mortality varies from year to year and country to country. For example in the US (2009 — 2010 flu season) there were 12,000 deaths. The highest mortality worldwide occurs in SE Asia and Africa.

 

4) If I’m pregnant can I still have the flu vaccination?

 

Flu is more likely to cause severe illness in pregnant women than in women who are not pregnant. Changes in the immune system, heart and lungs during pregnancy make pregnant women more prone to severe illness from the flu as well as hospitalisations and even death. Pregnant woman with flu also have a greater chance of serious problems with their unborn baby, including premature labour and delivery. Flu shots will protect pregnant women, their unborn babies and even protect the baby after birth. The flu shot is safe for pregnant woman.

 

5) What are the side effects of the flu vaccination?

 

The viruses in the flu vaccine are killed (inactivated), so you cannot get the flu from a flu shot. Some minor side effects that could occur are:


— Soreness, redness, or swelling where the shot was given

— Fever (low grade)

— Aches

 

6) I was vaccinated last year. Do I need to be vaccinated again this year?

 

A flu vaccine is needed every year because flu viruses are constantly changing. It’s not unusual for new flu viruses to appear each year. The flu vaccine is updated annually to keep up with the flu viruses as they change. Also, multiple studies have shown that the body’s immunity to flu viruses declines over time.

 

Protect yourself and others by securing your flu vaccination today. Family Medical Practice is at 298I Kim Ma, Ba Dinh, Hanoi, Tel: (04) 3843 0748

 

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