The new flu vaccination is now available for the upcoming flu season (December 2017 to March 2018). In 2016, there were over 21,000 cases of influenza in Hong Kong, contributing to over 200 deaths and a significant number of lost working and school hours.
What is flu and why should I get vaccinated?
Seasonal influenza or ‘the flu’ is a viral illness causing outbreaks every year. It is a common illness causing acute respiratory symptoms, lethargy, pain and fever. It often results in loss of school and work days. In most children and adults, it is a self-limiting illness, however it can sometimes cause severe symptoms leading to hospitalisation with complications such as pneumonia and even death. In Hong Kong it is more common in the winter months, mainly from December to March, and there is also a small peak in July and August.
The best way to prevent influenza and reduce the symptoms is by having vaccination every year, in addition to practising good personal hygiene and healthy lifestyle.
Who should be vaccinated?
All adults and all children 6 months of age and over are recommended to have a flu shot every year. People who are at high risk of developing complications should be especially encouraged to get the flu shot. These groups include children younger than 5, adults over 65 years of age, pregnant women, smokers, frequent travellers, health workers, people with chronic conditions such as asthma, heart diseases, diabetes, immunosuppression, neurological disorders, cancers and obesity.
What are in the flu vaccines?
The World Health Organisation (WHO) offers recommendations for strains of flu viruses to be included in the vaccine each year. At Optimal Family Health Limited, we currently offer the FluarixTM Tetra 2017-2018 Northern Hemisphere vaccination. This covers the four strains of the influenza virus as recommended by the WHO. These include the A/Michigan/45/2015(H1N1), A/Hong Kong/4801/2014 (H3N2), B/Phuket/3073/2013 and B/Brisbane/60/2008.
Please note it takes about 2 weeks after the injection for the vaccine to work.
Who should not have the flu shot?
Infants who are less than 6 months old, people who had a severe allergic reaction to a flu shot in the past, individuals who had Guillain-Barre Syndrome (a paralysing immune disease) and very ill patients. People with a history of egg allergy should discuss with your doctor before having the shots as the vaccine is derived from an egg-based technology.
Pregnant women or women trying for pregnancy are safe to have the flu shot.
What are the side effects?
Most people suffer little or no side effects apart from mild pain or ache at the site of the injection (usually done on the upper arm). Other common side effects are runny nose, headache, body aches, mild fever. Severe side effects are very rare, they include hives, swelling and difficulty with breathing which should warrant immediate medical attention.
How do I arrange to get the flu shot?
If you have any further questions or you wish to book an appointment, please do not hesitate to contact us.