Should I have the Flu Vaccine?
Travellers risk coming into contact with influenza in airports where thousands of people gather from around the globe, bringing their various illnesses with them. The influenza vaccine, (flu shot) is a safe, killed derivative of three influenza strains. It is cheap and very effective against the strains in the vaccine. If you catch influenza it is certainly a holiday stopper and can even be fatal. Would I risk travelling without my “ Flu “ vaccine? No, not when for such a small inconvenience I could be saved from such a potentially dangerous illness.
Influenza refers to a family of highly contagious and severe viral illnesses which are spread by droplets in the air from sneezing, coughing and even normal breathing in some cases. The virus can remain active on surfaces such as door handles, bench tops, supermarket trolleys, counters and computer consoles for many hours which has assisted it to become one of the more infectious of the common viruses seen in the world today.
The Influenza virus is continually mutating and changing so ongoing immunity is not possible at this time. The virus follows the seasons around the globe and is typically more prevalent in the colder seasons such as autumn and throughout winter. Although more severe in individuals with chronic illness, influenza can make even fit, healthy individuals critically ill.
This year (2015) in Hong Kong has already seen a severe outbreak and many deaths as a result of influenza. The current influenza vaccine has been changed to bring in two of the new strains to try to prevent further outbreaks and further deaths, which is why it is always a sensible idea to receive your yearly flu vaccine.
Dr Joan Chamberlain.TMA Rockhampton.