Tuesday, October 20, 2020

A Case for the Flu Vaccine: Wells Convinces

Health Minister Renward Wells announced that October begins influenza or ‘flu’ season, which lasts until March.

He said last year the healthcare system treated thousands of people in the Bahamas affected by the flu or complications from the flu.

The reasons Wells presented for a flu vaccination

  • Unlike COVID-19, there is a vaccine available to protect people from influenza. It is important that we all get the flu vaccine, especially during this time of COVID-19.
  • The flu vaccine is safe and effective and this is supported by years of research.
  • It is recommended that all persons older than 6 months should get the annual vaccine to prevent getting the flu unless specifically instructed not to by a doctor.
  • The flu similar to COVID-19 is characterized by symptoms such as fever, cough, muscle aches, sore throat, and runny nose, and a general unwell feeling. Illness can be mild or severe.
  • This year greater significance must be placed on availing oneself of the available flu vaccine. There is currently no vaccine for COVID19, however, the flu vaccine can provide protection from the current circulating strains.

How do influenza and COVID-19 differ?

Health officials say the illnesses differ by severity, death rate, and contagiousness.

COVID-19 causes severe illness, against which humans have no immunity. By contrast, with influenza, many people have some degree of immunity against it, to prevent hospitalization and complications in most instances.

Officials believe COVID-19 is deadlier than influenza, as the death rate of influenza is roughly 0.1 percent. Meanwhile, the case fatality rate for COVID-19 is estimated to be about 1.4-4.5 percent, with the risk of death being significantly higher for older persons than for younger individuals.

Another difference is COVID-19 appears to be more contagious than seasonal influenza. A person infected with influenza spreads the disease to another 1.3 individuals. For COVID-19, an infected person spreads illness to another 2 to 2.5 persons.

Featured Photo: BIS Photos/Kemuel Stubbs

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