Go for your influenza shot too, public urged

PETALING JAYA: The awareness of influenza and its vaccination is low in Malaysia.

This is despite doctors saying that they have been seeing more such cases lately.

Technical Committee chairman for the Immunise4Life Programme Prof Datuk Dr Zulkifli Ismail said the uptake for the influenza vaccine could be better than what it was now.

“It is not that encouraging. It is still low. I think people haven’t caught up to the idea of getting vaccinated for influenza yet.

“More could be vaccinated, especially the high-risk groups.

“We should be encouraging people to come forward to get their jabs,” the consultant paediatrician and paediatric cardiologist at KPJ Selangor Specialist Hospital said.

He added that while there were few cases of influenza during the peak of Covid-19, there had recently been more.

“At least one or two children are admitted with influenza,” he said.

While awareness of the influenza jab is still low, its importance should not be ignored.

“Basically, people don’t know that they need to have the flu vaccine,” Dr Zulkifli said.

Cases of influenza A and B, which are bad and require admission and possibly ICU treatment, have gone up in recent times.

Universiti Putra Malaysia dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Prof Dr Zamberi Sekawi, said vaccination was the main precautionary measure for influenza.

“Obviously, the lockdowns were effective for influenza in addition to Covid-19. Now because everything has opened up and people are moving around, the cases are going up too,” he said, adding that the standard operating procedure for Covid-19 worked for influenza too.

“People are aware of the disease, but they are not aware of the vaccines.”

Association of Private Hospitals Malaysia president Datuk Dr Kuljit Singh said the push for influenza vaccination was not so strong in Malaysia when compared with countries that had colder climates.

“Now, the awareness is more towards Covid-19,” he said.

Dr Kuljit Singh said the flu outbreak in colder countries was worse than it was in Malaysia.

“Vulnerable groups should take the flu vaccine,” he said.

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