The flu season is upon us again! And it’s also the time to consider getting yourself vaccinated against it if you haven't already done so. 

But why is it so important to get the flu jab?

According to the Ministry of Health, “Influenza, also known as the flu, is an infection caused by influenza viruses. Despite being commonly confused with the common cold, which is caused by other respiratory viruses, influenza is usually more severe.”

Here are 8 facts from the doctors at Occupational & Environmental Medicine Unit, Singapore General Hospital (SGH), that will help you make that decision to get vaccinated.

1) You won’t get flu from the vaccination

The influenza vaccine contains inactivated virus. And dead viruses can’t make you sick. But they do stimulate your immune system to make antibodies that would protect you from the influenza viruses that you have been vaccinated against.

2) Are you pregnant? You can and should receive the flu shot 

Not only is it safe for pregnant women to get the vaccine, it is essential. Because pregnant women have a higher risk of developing complications from influenza. 

3) Allergic to eggs? You can still get the flu shot

Most influenza vaccines contain a small amount of egg proteins because the viruses used to make the vaccines have been incubated in eggs. However, severe reactions in people with egg allergies are rare. A recent CDC study found that only 1 in a million gets a life-threatening allergic reaction.


4) Get vaccinated before you travel

Air travel speeds up the spread of diseases – including influenza – just like how SARS was in Hong Kong one day and in Singapore within 4 hours. Getting vaccinated before you travel means you won't bring the flu virus back to Singapore and infect your family and friends.


5) You could be a carrier of the flu virus and not know it 

According to studies, as many as 3 out of 10 people carrying the virus have no symptoms of influenza. This means you could be spreading the bug to others – like your children, elderly parents, friends and co-workers – without knowing it.


6) The flu virus is a tough nut

It can "live" for more than a day on hard surfaces. Hence, it's always recommended that you should wash your hands before you eat or touch any part of your face.

7) You need a flu shot every year because the virus mutates quickly and often  

The influenza virus mutates frequently. So this year's 'popular' strains of viruses would be different from last year's. This means the flu shot you had last year would not protect you from the current influenza. That's why CDC recommends an annual vaccination every year.

8) The vaccine is the best way to keep yourself and others safe from the flu 

The more people get vaccinated, the less likely that influenza can spread among a community. The CDC estimates that the risk of influenza in the overall population can be reduced by as much as 60 per cent. This protects those who cannot be vaccinated and don't have immunity such as babies younger than 6 months.

Influenza is a big deal!

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that influenza kills as many as half a million people worldwide every year. The 1918 influenza pandemic, our worst so far, killed about 50 million people worldwide. 

Make that decision now to get yourself and your loved ones vaccinated against influenza. 

Ref: N18