Thursday , April 22 2021

Truths and myths about influenza and influenza vaccine

Respiratory infections can be caused by a wide variety of microorganisms. Type A and B influenza viruses are a common cause, although type A viruses are the main cause of large epidemics and pandemics. Although the highest rates of infection occur in children aged 5 to 9 years, the illness from influenza is more severe and fatal in children under the age of 2, the elderly and the persons at high risk.

Influenza is usually a self-controlled disease, that is, the body is responsible for the elimination of the virus with the development of antibodies. It usually causes a clinical picture that is difficult to distinguish from other respiratory viruses, such as the common cold, but is characterized by fever (usually high and persistent throughout the days), headache, muscle pain, decay, dry cough, sore throat and sneezing.

The transmission of the virus occurs through air through sneezing, coughing, contact with hands or materials contaminated with the virus, such as phones, computers, kitchen utensils, among others. For this reason, people can get infected in any indoor space, inside or outside homes, offices, schools and public transport.

Surface antigens of influenza viruses often differ, therefore influenza epidemics occur every year. As a result, it is necessary to design new flu vaccines adapted to circulating viruses that are estimated to cause the next epidemic.

There are many measures to prevent this disease, such as frequent washing of hands with soap and water or alcoholic solutions, covering the mouth with the elbow in coughing or sneezing, good ventilation of the environment and keeping the surfaces clean. However, the main tool for preventing severe forms of influenza is the influenza vaccine.

The vaccine is available from April this year, free and compulsory for a defined risk population, in all vaccines and public hospitals in the country.

Who should be vaccinated? Children from 6 to 24 months (should receive two doses), pregnant women in each pregnancy and in each month of pregnancy, women who have not received the vaccine during pregnancy (up to 10 days after release from maternity leave), those above 65 years old, people aged 2 to 65 years with risk factors (smokers, obese, asthmatics, genetic diseases, rheumatology, heart, respiratory, kidney, cancer, HIV and other diseases affecting immunity). Health personnel must also receive the vaccine annually. Other people who do not belong to these risk groups can also be vaccinated if they want, but at a price according to health coverage.

There are false contraindications to the vaccine, such as relatives of immunosuppressed patients, people infected with HIV, those with intolerance or less allergic reaction to eggs, people who are treated with antibiotics or benign diseases (diarrhea, cough, rhinitis, cataract). , people who are treated with corticosteroids. They can all receive the vaccine.

The vaccination campaign in 2019 is conducted with a trivalent vaccine (protects against two types of influenza A and against one type of influenza B). This year, in addition, a new quadrivalent vaccine was launched in Argentina (it protects against two types of influenza A and against two strains of influenza B). However, for the flu season for the 2018-2019 season, the Advisory Committee on Vaccination Practices recommends annual vaccination but does not have an explicit preference for one vaccine on the other.
However, it is important to vaccinate. (Тэлам)

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