Rainy season is flu season: Doctors warn neglecting flu shots may lead to another outbreak
This February 7, 2019 photo shows a health office worker conducting a house-to-house visit to immunize children.
The STAR/Michael Varcas, File

Rainy season is flu season: Doctors warn neglecting flu shots may lead to another outbreak

Ratziel San Juan (Philstar.com) - July 14, 2020 - 11:50am

MANILA, Philippines — With the Philippines having entered its rainy season, which extends from June to November and is known to coincide with flu season, doctors are urging parents to get their children much-needed immunization to protect them from infectious diseases other than novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

During the Philippine Foundation for Vaccination's (PFV) July 8 webinar “Fortify Your Child’s Health,” medical experts warned Filipinos that neglecting flu shots may increase the chances of an influenza outbreak that would only compound the threat of the coronavirus pandemic and put people’s lives at risk.

The flu affects 480,000 Filipinos annually with the highest-risk groups being the elderly and children under the age of five, according to a 2020 study co-authored by PFV Executive Director doctor Lulu Bravo.

“Children are one of the high-risk groups in contracting the flu virus, which can lead to serious complications such as pneumonia and heart failure, as their immune system is still developing,” doctor Jocelyn Eusebio, President of the Philippine Pediatric Society, said during the webinar.

“It is essential that they continue getting their flu shots especially now that the flu season is upon us.”

Eusebio said that challenges of vaccination during the pandemic like quarantine travel restrictions, fear on visiting health care facilities, apprehensions on vaccine safety, and non-standard vaccination practices have already been addressed.

Apart from the easing of travel restrictions, she mentioned how safety measures and guidelines are being implemented in clinics and health centers, while local government units and the health sector are working to disseminate information on vaccine efficacy and to ensure that safe practices are being followed.

Related: Immunization during COVID-19 outbreak: Everything you need to know

Doctor Anna Ong-Lim, attending pediatrician at the Philippine General Hospital, likewise assured parents that flu shots are tried-and-tested.

“The flu vaccine has already been proven to be safe and effective against the influenza virus. In fact, the World Health Organization promotes widespread immunization through vaccination as it is one of the most cost-effective and most successful health interventions we have,” she said during the webinar.

“Before it is given to the public, (a vaccine undergoes) multiple stringent testing to ensure its safety and effectiveness. It is also constantly monitored and studied even after it is certified for public use.”

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