Why Flu Vaccination Is Important For You And Your Family

The flu is an airborne virus that spreads very quickly. It can circulate in a community in as little as two days and stay active for up to 20 days. And the number of deaths it causes every year is alarming.

In the latest World Health Organization data published in 2020, influenza and pneumonia deaths in the Philippines reached 93,807. That’s about 13.91% of total deaths and an age-adjusted death rate of 146.92 per 100,000 people—the sixth-highest rate in the world.

Flu vaccination, however, provides long-lasting protection against influenza and works best when administered before the start of flu season. In the Philippines, the flu usually happens during the rainy season, which falls between February and June. The Department of Health recommends getting your flu shot before these months.

Here are some significant reasons why getting vaccinated is essential not just for you, but for your loved ones:

Everyone six months and older should get vaccinated.

Children between 6 months and four years old are at high risk of developing complications from influenza, such as pneumonia. Also, they may infect others at home or in daycare if they have a flu infection. Flu shots reduce the chance that you will spread the virus to others who are at high risk for complications from the flu, such as children under five and adults over 65.

Pregnant women need to get vaccinated for their health and that of their babies.

During pregnancy, the immune system is suppressed because of the growing fetus, making you more vulnerable to serious flu complications such as pneumonia and even death. Flu vaccination can protect both you and your baby from flu infections.

The flu shot does not cause miscarriages or trigger pre-term labor. It is recommended that all pregnant women get the annual flu vaccine during any trimester of pregnancy, but it's vital to get vaccinated during the first trimester (before conception).

Caregivers can pass on protection to those they love by getting vaccinated.

If a caregiver gets vaccinated against the flu, their body develops antibodies to fight off the virus before symptoms. That means they won't spread it to anyone else while they're contagious, including those most vulnerable to complications from influenza (such as those with chronic conditions).

Caregivers need to stay healthy to continue caring for their loved ones — especially during an emergency when there aren't enough caregivers available in the community or during public health concerns like pandemic outbreaks, such as COVID-19.

Flu invades your airways and lungs and can lead to serious, life-threatening complications.

Your body’s natural defenses will kick in when the flu virus enters your body, but it can take two weeks for your immune system to mount a strong response if the virus spreads into your lower airways and lungs during this time. The flu can also lead to serious, life-threatening complications. The most common complications of the flu include:

  • Pneumonia The flu can cause pneumonia, an infection that involves the lungs, and this complication is more likely in people who have other health problems.
  • Bronchitis (inflammation of the airways). Bronchitis can occur when the virus affects the lining of your airways and causes coughing and congestion. Bronchitis is usually milder than pneumonia but can last longer than five days.
  • Ear infections (otitis media). If you have a middle ear infection or inflammation in your eustachian tubes, it could lead to earaches, hearing loss, and dizziness from changes in pressure inside your head. This is more common in children who have not yet removed their adenoids.
  • Sinus infections (sinusitis). This is caused by viral or bacterial sinuses that affect one or more sinuses. They often cause facial pain and pressure, headaches, and bad breath. You may also feel tired or have trouble breathing through your nose.

Side effects and important reminders

Most side effects from vaccination are mild and include soreness at the injection site, low-grade fever, and body aches or headaches (these symptoms can last 1 to 7 days). More serious side effects are rare but may include allergic reactions such as hives and difficulty breathing.

People with certain medical conditions, such as asthma or other lung diseases, or weakened immune systems may have a higher risk for complications from the vaccine. They should talk to their doctor about whether it is suitable for them.

People who are allergic to eggs (ovo-vegetarians) should consult with their doctor before getting vaccinated because some vaccines contain egg proteins that can cause anaphylaxis (a severe allergic reaction).

Get your flu shots now!

The flu shot is your best defense against the flu.

If you're getting it after the flu season, ask your doctor or pharmacist which months' doses they have available. You must get a flu shot every year to be protected from the latest strain of the virus in a particular flu season.