Although flu is not a serious illness, it is a very common viral infection that can be dangerous for high-risk groups. In 2020, the Ministry of Health decided to anticipate the National Vaccination Campaign against influenza as a strategy to reduce the number of people with flu in autumn and winter, seasons with the highest incidence of the virus. The measure is also a way to help health professionals to rule out the possibility of the disease in the assessment of coronavirus cases. Check out the tips and ask your main questions about the flu vaccine.
In this article, you will check:
- Understand the flu vaccine
- Who should be immunized?
- Is flu different from a cold?
- How to prevent colds and flu?
- Can Coronavirus be mistaken for flu?
- Does Omint cover the flu vaccine?
1. Understand the flu vaccine
The virus mutates constantly and, to maintain its effectiveness, the World Health Organization (WHO) updates its recommendation for vaccine composition every year. This change is based on information received from around the world about the prevalence of circulating strains.
According to infectious disease Dr. David Uip, there are two types of flu vaccine: trivalent, which contain three strains, two A and one B; and quadrivalent ones, which contain an additional B (two A and two B). The trivalent vaccine offered by the Unified Health System (SUS) prevents against strains H1N1, H3N2 and B – the most common subtypes found in the Southern Hemisphere.
It is important to remember that the quadrivalent vaccine is found in private clinics or through a health plan (see the last topic for information for Omint customers). There are two nomenclatures for the same vaccine: quadrivalent or tetravalent. They are just different ways of communicating the vaccine with four strains.
The vaccine takes up to three weeks to produce protective antibodies and has a defensive effect for about 1 year. Therefore, those who took it in 2019 should seek immunization in 2020, warns the infectologist. “The vaccine is made from inactivated live virus, so whoever takes the vaccine will not catch the flu,” he says.
Campaigns are important to raise awareness that immunization is the most effective way to fight the disease. According to Dr. David Uip, the discourse used by some groups against vaccines, including that of influenza, is irresponsible and has no scientific support. “The only way to combat this is through information and continuing education”, he points out.
2. Who should be immunized?
In SUS, the 75 million doses will start to be applied from March. The public system indicates and prioritizes the flu vaccine for the following groups:
- children from 6 months to 9 years;
- pregnant women and women who have recently given birth;
- people over 55;
- all indigenous people;
- all health professionals, teachers from public or private schools;
- prison system employees;
- security and rescue forces professionals;
- all patients who are immunosuppressed;
- people with trisomies, as having Down syndrome;
- any teenager admitted to institutions;
- with chronic diseases such as asthma, arthritis and diabete.
The flu vaccine is not recommended for individuals who are allergic to eggs, neurological patients and those who have a fever.
3. Is flu different from a cold?
Cough, nasal congestion, runny nose, body pain and sore throat are common symptoms in cases of flu and cold. Therefore, the two diseases can be confused early on. However, they are not the same and occur due to different virus contamination. The flu sets in by the influenza A, B and C viruses, which range from mild respiratory infections to seasonal epidemics, such as H1N1 – registered in 2009, which was classified as type A.
The flu is a disease that can be serious, both by the action of the virus itself and by bacterial complications, such as pneumonia and otitis. In both, the main route of transmission is by air and its prevalence increases in the colder periods, such as autumn and winter.
According to Agência Brasil, the most common viruses in the case of colds are rhinovirus, parainfluenza virus and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). You can also see differences in symptoms. In colds, in general, there is no sign of fever and muscle pain, besides causing less indisposition.
Influenza and cold viruses can be transmitted through the secretions of an infected person’s airways when sneezing, coughing or talking. It is still possible to contract the virus after contact with surfaces recently contaminated by respiratory secretions from someone infected. Therefore, the care we will talk about in the next topic is essential.
4. How to prevent colds and flu?
Influenza is considered by the World Health Organization (WHO) to be one of the major health challenges that affects all countries. In addition, from a professional point of view, this is one of the main causes of absenteeism at work, causing great financial, economic and social impact. Therefore, it is necessary that some simple habits be adopted to minimize the transmission of infectious diseases, warns the Ministry of Health. See some measures:
- wash your hands with soap and water and use desinfectant or cleaning;
- avoid touching your mouth, nose and eyes;
- avoid crowded or closed places;
- avoid contact with people who are infected;
- cover your mouth / nose with a disposable tissue when coughing or sneezing;
- maintain healthy habits, with food and drink at least 2 liters of water a day;
- get vaccinated.
The treatment of colds and flu must happen respecting the natural cycle of the virus, with the aforementioned precautions that help to minimize infections, in addition to the use of antipyretics and analgesics when necessary. In case of flu with respiratory complications, it is important to seek medical evaluation.
5.Can Coronavirus be mistaken for flu?
The new coronavirus has influenza-like symptoms. The Covid-19 outbreak is spread across several countries worldwide. In order to avoid transmission, in addition to social isolation, care is similar to those already mentioned above.
If the person shows signs such as cough, fever, breathing difficulty, medical attention should be sought. With this information, the professional can give the best guidance, referring the patient to perform specific tests, with testing.
In case of positive diagnosis, there is no specific treatment for the new coronavirus. The care is similar to that of the flu, with isolation of at least 15 days inside the residence itself, so as not to infect other residents. Elderly people and people with immune problems should be given extra attention. Finally, find out through trusted sources, such as the Ministry of Health, WHO and doctors you trust. Omint has created a guide with key information about the new coronavirus.
See some information about the coronavirus in this video:
6. Does Omint cover the flu vaccine?
Omint customers have flu vaccine coverage within the guidelines below, according to the SUS national immunization program:
- children (up to 9 years old vaccinated for the first time): 2 doses
- adults / elderly (over 55 years): 1 dose
- pregnant women and postpartum women (up to 45 days after delivery): 1 dose
- teachers (proof required): 1 dose
- health workers (presentation of the class council card will be required): 1 dose
- immunosuppressed patients and patients with chronic diseases, according to a medical report with ICD: 1 dose
For people outside the above criteria, a medical request and coverage assessment will be required. Remember: the flu vaccine is the best way to protect yourself from the disease. Share this information with family and friends to help fight the virus.