There is a flu outbreak every year and there is a new flu vaccine being introduced every year. The reason is this – the flu virus changes or mutate a little every year, making it impossible to create a vaccine that is permanently effective year after year. Instead, each year a new flu vaccine needs to be introduced that is effective for that particular year.
According to data from Center for Disease Control, Atlanta, USA, this year’s flu outbreak that is happening in USA is mainly due to flu virus of the Fujian variant (79%) and the Panama variant (21%).
So, is flu vaccine effective?
No vaccine is 100% effective. For the flu vaccine to be effective for this outbreak, ideally the vaccine needs to contain both the Fujian and Panama variants. Unfortunately, the present available flu vaccine isn’t.
However, that is not to say that the vaccine is totally useless. It would still afford a certain degree of protection as there is cross-immunity. In other words, the immunity that you get from one particular variant provides you with partial protection against other variants. Some protection is better than no protection, particularly for the immuno-compromised, such as:
-those above 65 years old
-children below 2
-people undergoing treatment for terminal illness
-those travelling to affected areas in USA
Some Common Sense Approaches
As in all outbreaks, the flu vaccine is currently difficult to come by as demands outstripped supply. Thus, if you think you are likely to be affected, try to get the vaccine as soon as you can. It takes two weeks after the injection for the antibodies to be produced and for you to be protected. So, if you’re going to USA in two weeks time, go for your shot now!
Besides the vaccine, there are some simple preventive measures you can take.
1. Wash your hands every time you touch something that others have touched. Flu is air-borne and droplets containing the virus can deposit on any thing you touched. Carry wipes with you, for that purpose, when away from home.
2. Boost up your immunity by eating a proper and balanced diet, containing lots of vegetables and fruits. Go for your daily walks or exercise, even if it’s only for 10-15 minutes. Drink plenty of water. Take vitamins and mineral supplements if you think you’re deficient in those.
3. Avoid crowded places. Being in a crowded place increases your risk of being exposed to someone with the flu.
4. If you’re having the flu, stop it from spreading by staying at home or covering your nose and mouth when you sneeze.