With this month marking the beginning of flu season — which lasts until March — people are more susceptible to getting the flu and falling ill for up to 12 days. Getting a flu vaccination can easily prevent this. However, many people are misled by the basic facts of influenza — the FAQ below should shed some light.


1) Is 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 like chronic heart, kidney, diabetes and lung conditions. 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 2 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 from country to country. For example in the US there were 12,000 deaths during the 2009 to 2010 flu season. The highest mortality worldwide occurs in Southeast Asia and Africa.


4) If I’m pregnant can I still get a 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, including hospitalisation and even death. Pregnant woman with flu also have a greater chance for 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 — and strongly recommended — for pregnant women.


5) What are the side effects of flu vaccination?


The viruses in the flu vaccine are dead — 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; a low-grad fever; aches and pains.


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.


7) What is the price of the flu vaccine?


At Family Medical Practice, the price is VND440,000 net. The vaccination itself only takes a few seconds. If you get the flu you could be sick for up to 12 days. On average most people who fall sick take three to five days off work. So take a few seconds out of your day to get yourself and those you care about protected.


*Please note, that according to the Ministry of Health, a doctor’s approval is now required before having a flu vaccination


Dr. Brian McNaull is Medical Director at Family Medical Practice, which is located in Vietnam’s major cities. For information or assistance call (04) 3843 0748 (Hanoi), (08) 3822 7848 (Ho Chi Minh City) or (0511) 3582 699 (Danang). Alternatively, click on vietnammedicalpractice.com

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