The flu is a serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes death. On January 15, a 3-year-old girl was the first child fatality of the Hong Kong winter influenza season bringing the flu-related death toll in Hong Kong to 32 for 2018. While it is still too early to tell whether the flu season will be more severe this year, it is not too late to get vaccinated. According to the WHO and medical experts, getting vaccinated is by far the most effective way to prevent infection and severe outcomes caused by flu viruses.
Who should get vaccinated for the flu in Hong Kong?
Everyone should get vaccinated for the flu every year (except babies under the age of 6 months). The ones that are most vulnerable are:
- Children 6 months to 12 years of age or primary school children
- Pregnant women (at 16 weeks or more gestation)
- Elderly over 65 years of age
- Intellectually disabled individuals
- Physically disabled people (who receive disability allowance)
When should I get vaccinated?
Now. You or your family members should get vaccinated as soon as possible. The flu shot takes about four weeks to become effective and it will protect you during Hong Kong’s seasonal influenza commonly between January to May and mid June to August.
Where can I get vaccinated for the flu in Hong Kong?
In Hong Kong you can either get the flu shot through the vaccination subsidy scheme to encourage most vulnerable people to get vaccinated – or privately without any subsidy.
Read more from Healthy Matters on vaccination costs and providers in Hong Kong:
What are the side effects of the flu shot?
- Pain and/or swelling of the injection site.
- Mild flu-like symptoms (fever, runny nose and tiredness).
- Allergic reactions are very rare.
How many doses of the flu vaccine will I receive?
One dose for adults and children 9 years old and above.
Two doses for children under 9 (spaced by 1 month).
Why is it worth getting the flu shot every year?
Although the flu vaccine is based on a previous year’s antigen and may not offer protection to a new virus in the coming year, it is still worth making a regular habit of getting vaccinated for the flu as it builds your bank of immunity over several years. And it is best to start young and keep the momentum up over the years.
Can I still get the flu even if I am vaccinated?
Yes. Effectiveness is reduced if the viruses used to make the vaccine are not closely matched to those circulating in the community. That being said, even when the viruses are not closely matched, vaccination can still protect you and others and prevent complications.