Here's Why You Need To Get The Flu Shot At Least Once A Year

Take care of yourself and your family by protecting their health.

Cover image via Positive Parenting

There's nothing more important than keeping our loved ones safe and healthy

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From ensuring everyone is well-fed with the yummiest food to encouraging a healthier lifestyle, family is a major part of our lives and we would do anything for them. 

However, we may not be prepared for the scary consequences of the flu until it hits our loved ones. 

In Malaysia, flu is treated as no big deal. However, in truth, flu is responsible for around 250,000 to 500,000 deaths worldwide.

But what's the big deal about the flu? Isn't it common? Let's break it down:

1. A cold and flu seem similar, but they are not the same

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It's easy to mistake the flu with the common cold, something many of us get throughout the year.

While we probably say, "Oh, I just have the flu, it's no biggie!" whenever we're feeling under the weather or even just having a runny nose, it's likely that we're actually having a cold, and not the flu!

The symptoms of the cold and flu are similar, but the flu is worse and has more serious consequences. While the cold has milder symptoms like runny or stuffy nose, those infected with flu usually experience high fever, sore throat, muscle aches and headaches that last longer.

2. Flu season in Malaysia lasts throughout the year

In tropical climates like Malaysia, anyone can catch the flu at any time of the year. However, there are sudden and unexpected outbreaks of the flu during certain seasons. 

The Ministry of Health has been collecting data from local clinics to record the major circulating pattern of the flu virus in Malaysia. 

3. It's really REALLY easy to catch the flu

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When an infected person coughs or sneezes, they send tiny airborne droplets containing the flu virus into their surroundings. Anyone can become infected by breathing in these droplets or by touching the live virus and then touching their mouth, nose or eyes. 

Germs have a longer life on hard surfaces like tables than on soft surfaces such as our clothes. The droplets may remain infectious for several hours, depending on where they fall.

That's why we should practise good personal hygiene by washing our hands, using hand sanitizers and wearing masks when we're sick. 

4. Flu is contagious even before the symptoms start

The flu can begin suddenly. You may feel great one day but wake up really sick the next. You might only begin to display the symptoms of flu a few days after being exposed to the virus. 

However, it's possible that you can infect someone else with the virus even before becoming sick yourself. 

5. For high-risk groups, such as the elderly, flu can have life-threatening complications.

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Our elderly parents and grandparents are more vulnerable to catching the flu virus because of their weakening immune system. This is especially so if they have pre-existing medical conditions like diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular and kidney diseases, and respiratory illnesses.

Children below the age of 5 are also at risk due to their developing immune systems.

The World Health Organization is urging everyone to get the flu shot once a year

While the flu shot isn't 100% effective, it does greatly reduce the risk of getting influenza by around 70%. Of course, herd immunization can make a world of difference to immunocompromised individuals.

Getting vaccinated can reduce the risk of transmitting the virus to someone else. The more family members who are vaccinated, the less at-risk your whole family will be at developing this life-threatening disease.

Too many families have been affected by vaccine-preventable diseases. The cost of vaccination is much lower than the unimaginable consequences of catching this deadly virus and the risk of losing a family member.

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But what about the side effects and possible complications?

Here are the actual side effects of getting the flu vaccine:
1. Irritation, redness, or swelling at the injection site
2. Mild headache, fever, nausea
3. Muscle aches

These symptoms tend to disappear after a few days, and only affect a small percentage of people.

Vaccination does not cause the disease it's protecting against. While there may be a link between having mild side effects after receiving a flu shot, it does not mean you will fall sick because of getting vaccinated.

Serious side effects from vaccination are extremely rare, with a 1-in-a-million chance of developing a severe allergic reaction to the vaccine.

Getting vaccinated doesn't take long and it can make all the difference to your loved ones. Find out more here.

Read more about vaccines here