Influenza vaccines are safe and essential!

Influenza vaccines have a good safety record. They have been extensively studied, with no reported influenza vaccination-related deaths in Malaysia or Singapore. While they can occasionally cause mild side effects such as redness, pain, swelling at the injection site, or fever, these effects typically resolve on their own.

Thus, there is no reason to be afraid of influenza vaccines. Instead, we should rely on them to help prevent influenza, a disease that affects 3 to 5 million people annually, causing severe complications like pneumonia, heart attack, stroke, and even respiratory deaths (ranging from 290,000 to 650,000).

The U.S. Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends annual influenza shots for everyone over the age of 6 months. This is especially important if you belong to any of the following high-risk group:

  1. Older Persons:
    • Annual influenza vaccination in individuals aged 50 or more is associated with lower rates of influenza-related hospitalisation, complications, and death.

  2. Individuals with Chronic Health Conditions:
    • Influenza vaccination may help reduce the risk of major cardiovascular events in individuals with heart disease.
    • In people with diabetes, annual influenza vaccination can lower the likelihood of heart attack or stroke-related deaths.
    • Influenza vaccination is linked to a decreased risk of hospitalisation due to heart failure in elderly patients with chronic kidney disease.
    • Annual influenza vaccination in individuals with COPD leads to fewer exacerbations, hospitalisations, outpatient visits, and reduced all-cause and respiratory mortality.
    • Similarly, people with asthma experience a decrease in respiratory illness frequency, asthma attacks, and influenza-related asthma complications.

  3. Pregnant Women:
    • Influenza shots given to pregnant women significantly reduce the risk of influenza-induced complications, pre-term labour, premature birth, congenital disabilities, and stillbirth.

  4. Young Children:
    • Annual influenza vaccination protects young children aged over 6 months from potentially fatal influenza-related complications, including pneumonia, severe dehydration, and brain dysfunction.

The bottom line? Influenza vaccines are safe and a highly necessary preventive healthcare measure! With millions of people affected by influenza each year, it is essential to prioritise the annual influenza vaccination, particularly for high-risk groups and vulnerable populations. This small step could help avert tremendous physical, emotional, and financial suffering resulting from severe influenza and related complications.