Many Malaysian adults live with one or more non-communicable diseases, such as, type 2 diabetes mellitus, heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, chronic kidney disease and liver disease that are immunosuppressive. Such medical conditions make it much harder to fight and recover from a flu infection11. A host of adverse events can occur – the flu may worsen the pre-existing chronic disease (eg raising a diabetic patient’s blood glucose to dangerous levels) or bring on a heart attack or stroke11. We would have a perfect storm when the flu complications themselves set in. This explains why people with chronic diseases are likely to get hospitalised or die after a bout of flu11.
Those 65 years old or older are also particularly vulnerable to the flu. Many of them are living with non-communicable diseases. Their risk is further compounded by having immune systems that have been weakened by age11.
So, it is recommended that patients with chronic disease and older persons make annual flu vaccinations a part of their lifestyle11. The decision could make all the difference to their health and quality of life.