The Directorate for Health has just launched its campaign to promote vaccination against the seasonal flu. The aim of this campaign, which is launched each autumn, is to raise awareness among the population as a whole and among persons at risk in particular. The seasonal flu virus undergoes variations each year which make the previous vaccination ineffective. Because it takes 15 days for the immune system to defend itself against the virus, the ideal time to get vaccinated is now.
The Directorate for Health recommends that persons at risk protect themselves against the seasonal flu through vaccination:
- Persons over the age of 65;
- Persons suffering from chronic illnesses of the respiratory and cardiovascular systems;
- Persons suffering from diabetes, kidney problems or reduced immunity;
- Pregnant women, regardless of which stage of pregnancy they are in.
When should you be vaccinated?
The best time to be vaccinated is October/November. Just two weeks after vaccination, the immune system is ready to stand up to the flu virus. The immunity lasts for at least six months.
The vaccination consists of a single injection, but it must be repeated each year because the flu virus constantly goes through seasonal variations. The flu vaccine is generally well tolerated, and only occasionally produces side effects, ranging from a slight fever to a temporary feeling of being generally unwell, to pain at the site of the injection.
Although the vaccine doesn't always make it possible to avoid the illness, it does significantly reduce the risk of serious complications and death.
What is the flu?
Influenza is a viral infection which mainly affects the nose, throat, bronchial tubes and possibly also the lungs. The infection is characterised by the sudden onset of a high fever, aching muscles, headaches, a change of general condition, a dry cough, an irritated throat and rhinitis.
The influenza virus is easily transmitted from one person to another by micro-droplets and particles secreted by infected people when they cough or sneeze. Flu tends to spread rapidly during seasonal epidemics.
Most people who catch the flu recover after one or two weeks with no medical treatment. But for the very young, the elderly and people suffering from chronic conditions, the flu can cause serious complications such as pneumonia and can even prove fatal.
(Source: press release from the Ministry of Health)