By Dr Tim Ong
There is a flu outbreak every year and there is a new
flu vaccine being introduced every year. The reason is this - the
flu virus changes or mutate a little every year, making it
impossible to create a vaccine that is permanently effective year after year.
Instead, each year a new flu vaccine needs to be introduced that is effective
for that particular year.
According to data from Center for Disease Control, Atlanta, USA, this
year's flu outbreak that is happening in USA is mainly due to flu
virus of the Fujian variant (79%) and the Panama variant (21%).
So, is flu vaccine effective?
No vaccine is 100% effective. For the flu vaccine to be effective for
this outbreak, ideally the vaccine needs to contain both the Fujian
and Panama variants. Unfortunately, the present available flu vaccine
However, that is not to say that the vaccine is totally useless. It
would still afford a certain degree of protection as there is cross-
immunity. In other words, the immunity that you get from one
particular variant provides you with partial protection against other
variants. Some protection is better than no protection, particularly
for the immuno-compromised, such as:
-those above 65 years old
-children below 2
-people undergoing treatment for terminal illness
-those travelling to affected areas in USA
Some Common Sense Approaches
As in all outbreaks, the flu vaccine is currently difficult to come
by as demands outstripped supply. Thus, if you think you are likely
to be affected, try to get the vaccine as soon as you can. It takes
two weeks after the injection for the antibodies to be produced and
for you to be protected. So, if you're going to USA in two weeks
time, go for your shot now!
Besides the vaccine, there are some simple preventive measures you
1. Wash your hands every time you touch something that others have
touched. Flu is air-borne and droplets containing the virus can
deposit on any thing you touched. Carry wipes with you, for that
purpose, when away from home.
2. Boost up your immunity by eating a proper and balanced diet,
containing lots of vegetables and fruits. Go for your daily walks or
exercise, even if it's only for 10-15 minutes. Drink plenty of water.
Take vitamins and mineral supplements if you think you're deficient
3. Avoid crowded places. Being in a crowded place increases your risk
of being exposed to someone with the flu.
4. If you're having the flu, stop it from spreading by staying at
home or covering your nose and mouth when you sneeze.
More Information for Managing Flu and Cold:
Visit Holisticonline.com Flu/Cold
Infocenter for detailed information about cold, Flu, and how to manage
it including prevention strategies. Visit