Department of Health (DOH) urges Central Luzon residents to get vaccinated against influenza.
About 112,369 doses have been administered, as of October 31, out of a total of 426,600 doses that were allocated to the region last September.
DOH Central Luzon Center for Health Development Family Health Cluster Nurse V Shiela Ann Esteban explained that influenza is a type of flu disease that causes infections in the nose, throat, and lungs that is commonly transmitted through droplets and small particles from coughing or sneezing.
“Symptoms may include sudden onset of high fever, body aches, headaches, severe malaise, non-productive cough, sore throat, and rhinitis,” she furthered.
Among children, symptoms may manifest as rapid breathing, poor feeding, irritability, and dehydration.
The elderly, on the other hand, may experience decreased alertness or delayed responses.
“Influenza can lead to mild illness or even severe conditions that may result in fatalities, especially among vulnerable groups like senior citizens,” Esteban warned.
As such, she urged the public to take advantage of the vaccination opportunity.
The vaccine needs to be administered annually because the flu disease is highly variable and can change rapidly.
“Ideally, it is best to get the flu vaccination before the rainy season. During this period, the cold weather often leads to an increase in illnesses such as cold, and one may contract flu,” she said.
Esteban assured that the vaccine is safe, with common side effects including mild pain, occasional fever, runny nose, and sore throat.
Any flu-like symptoms post-vaccination are typically less severe than an actual flu infection.
In addition, those mild side effects may be expected as part of strengthening the antibodies that will fight against the flu.
However, individuals with a history of immediate hypersensitivity or anaphylaxis, or those who experienced severe reactions after previous flu vaccinations, are advised against receiving the vaccine.
Likewise, individuals allergic to egg protein should abstain from vaccination, as it is an ingredient in the production process.
Esteban also mentioned that back in 2012, senior citizens were the primary focus for flu vaccinations.
However, in September 2023, DOH implemented an Influenza Vaccine National Policy which expanded the flu vaccination to various populations beyond senior citizens due to the increased availability of vaccine stocks.
The prioritization for vaccinations is based on risk factors, mirroring the approach adopted for COVID-19 vaccinations.
Initial priorities are senior citizens, healthcare workers, pregnant women, and adults with comorbidities.
Following this, priority will be given to frontline service providers such as military personnel, which will be followed by other healthy adults.
For those interested in receiving the vaccine, individuals may coordinate with the nearest health center in their respective areas. (CLJD/MAECR-PIA 3)