Essentially, flu vaccination is done to prevent the spread of influenza (more popularly known as the flu). Influenza is a very common infection that is caused by influenza virus types A and B.
It would take around two weeks for protection to develop after the vaccination. Some of the common symptoms of flu can include chills, headache, fever, cough, sore throat, body malaise, and muscle aches.
Candidates for Flu Vaccination
According to the Singapore National Childhood Immunisation Schedule (NCIS) and the National Adult Immunisation Schedule (NAIS), flu vaccination is recommended for everyone, especially those individuals who have a high risk of developing flu complications. This includes:
- People who are over 65 years of age
- Pregnant women
- Individuals with chronic medical conditions such as liver, heart, lung, and kidney conditions
- People with low resistance to infections (this includes patients with HIV and leukemia and those who have had organ transplants)
- People who are under radiation therapy or those who are taking cancer medications
- People who are long-term steroid users
- Those who are below 18 years old and are getting long-term aspirin therapy
- Those who are staying in long-term or intermediate care facilities
- Children below six months old (up to 59 months)
The flu vaccination takes effect about 2 weeks after vaccination, thus it’s better to get vaccinated early before flu season starts. In Singapore, the Northern Hemisphere flu season generally occurs between November and February.
The Southern Hemisphere season is from May to July. Flu shots contain several strains of flu virus that are expected to be the most common for that season. One dose is recommended per year as flu viruses are constantly changing, and your body’s immunity to influenza viruses may decrease over time.
Flu Precautions to Keep in Mind
Prior to getting vaccinated for the flu, you need to inform your healthcare professional about the following:
- If you have any allergy to the vaccine or any of the ingredients of the vaccine
- If you have had Guillain-Barre Syndrome (this is a rare condition where the body’s own immune system attacks the nerves)
- If you have a severe allergic reaction to eggs
Different Types of Flu Vaccines
All flu vaccines are quadrivalent. This means they can protect against four various types of flu viruses, namely: two influenza B viruses, influenza A (H3N2) virus, and the A(H1N1) virus. A flu vaccine can include the following:
Nasal Flu Vaccine
This is more popularly known as the “flu mist.” This contains live virus and will be administered through the nose. The nasal flu vaccine is approved for use for people ages 2 to 49. However, live flu vaccines should not be provided to those who are immunocompromised or pregnant.
Standard Dose Shot
This type is made from a virus that is grown in chicken eggs. This type can be given to those who are six months and older.
Shot Made with an Adjuvant
This type of flu vaccine can be provided to people over 65 years old. This type comes with adjuvant which has been known to help create a stronger immune system response.
Cell Based Shot
This flu vaccine contains viruses that are grown from a culture made from mammal cells. This egg-free vaccine is approved for those who are over six months old.
High Dose Shot
These shots have a high dose of antigen and are created to provide a strong immune response. This flu vaccine is approved for people who are 65 years old and older.
This is an egg-free and synthetically created vaccine that’s approved for use for those who are over 18 years of age.