What can I do if the influenza vaccine is not available where I live?

Influenza is a potentially dangerous illness that may cause hospitalisation and even death under rare circumstances. Every flu season is unique, and each influenza infection varies from person to person. Despite this, millions of people catch the flu each year, hundreds of thousands are hospitalised, and thousands to tens of thousands suffer from flu-related diseases. The best way to avoid flu is to get the yearly seasonal influenza vaccination, which has been shown to dramatically lower the incidence of influenza.

Other than that, because influenza and COVID-19 infection have several similarities, in terms of flu-like symptoms, affecting the respiratory system, both are contagious, and may result in varying degrees of disease severity. Hence, it is quite difficult to distinguish from one another without doing relevant diagnostic testing. However, because each infection and disease is caused by a distinct virus, various vaccinations and treatment regimens are available for each infection and disease.

What Are The Advantages Of Getting Influenza Vaccination?

Influenza vaccine, also known as the flu shot, enhances the immunity and provides protection against the influenza viruses. However, the influenza vaccination does not protect against the coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19 pandemic. It has also been shown that it does not increase your risk of getting COVID-19 infection, nor does it exacerbate any presenting illnesses.

However, receiving influenza vaccines enables medical practitioners and physicians to rule out other illnesses, such as influenza infections, and save vital medical resources for those in priorities such as severe COVID-19. As a result of these efforts, the mortality rate will certainly be reduced.

Influenza vaccine is also able to reduce the risk of flu-related hospitalisation in children, high risk working-age adults, and the elderly. It is particularly important for those in these categories because they are more prone to get a more severe form of influenza illness. The reason being is high exposure to the viruses, immunocompromised, degeneration or immature immunity will have insufficient response and immune reaction against the influenza infection. Vaccination is able to boost and cover-up for these conditions.

What Can I Do If The Influenza Vaccine Is Not Available Where I Live?

Because most countries can only offer the influenza vaccination in limited numbers, WHO recommends prioritising the high-risk groups, beginning with health-care professionals and the elderly. Some nations may have been unable to obtain the vaccination this year due to COVID-19 Pandemic. Nonetheless, here in Malaysia the influenza vaccination is also available as a self-support option and not mandatory by the government or Ministry of Health (MOH). You may receive it in government clinics, hospitals, some private clinics or hospitals with a relatively cost-friendly pricing.

Whether or not you are able to obtain the influenza vaccination, you may still reduce your risks of contracting or transmitting influenza by implementing the same public health and social strategies as per suggested for COVID-19:

  • Maintain self hygiene by washing your hands frequently with soap and water or using a hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.
  • Maintain a good social distance of at least one metre between yourself and others, and wear a medical certified mask if this is not practicable.
  • Cover your nose and mouth while coughing and sneezing to practise respiratory etiquette.
  • Seek medical attention if you experience any respiratory problems, especially if you are in the high-risk category.
  • If you are ill, or if you have come into contact with infectious persons, separate and quarantine yourself to prevent spreading the virus infections.

What If I Did Not Receive The Influenza Vaccine?

As mentioned, the influenza vaccination is good to have measures but not mandatory in Malaysia immunization settings. It is also not the priority in the current COVID-19 pandemic. The treatment and outcome for influenza is far better than COVID-19 infection as well.

Fortunately, we have a wholesome strategy for jenis vaksin covid 19 in Malaysia. Although the influenza vaccines are not always available and do not provide protection against the coronavirus or COVID-19, the Covid 19 vaccination is the alternative option. There are up to 5 Covid 19 vaccine manufacturers readily available in Malaysia and being distributed in phases. More are coming in future. Hopefully it is able to provide protection against the COVID-19 for all Malaysians as soon as possible, free from the threats of COVID-19 pandemic.