SINCE the flu and the covid19 virus have similar symptoms such as fever, cough and fatigue, the Ministry of Health is advising the public to get vaccinated against the flu (H1N1, H3N2 and other influenzas) early so as to eliminate the possibility of people with the flu thinking they have the potentially deadlier covid19 virus.
The flu season begins on Thursday and runs until April. Pregnant women, especially those who are high-risk are asked to visit the closest health centre to get the flu vaccination early to avoid and lessen the severity of the flu. Getting a flu shot can help health officials rule out any confusion between a flu infection and a covid19 positive case.
At the virtual Health Ministry press conference on Wednesday, Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram said it is important for those who are at high risk to get the flu vaccination as soon as possible.
The groups that are advised to get the vaccine early are children six months to five years, pregnant women, those with non-communicable diseases, those with respiratory issues, members of the TIPS, Customs, Immigration, and health care officials.
Director of Women's Health Unit Dr Adesh Sirjusingh said while symptoms of covid19 and the flu are similar and can have a mild effect on pregnant women, there have been instances where pregnant women became critically ill from the flu.
He said there is a more advanced hexavalent vaccine available that fights against H1N1, H3N2 and other influenzas. He said the vaccine must be taken at least two weeks before it can protect the immune system from the virus.
The flu season begins October 1 and ends in April of the following year. For the 2019-2020 flu symptoms, there were no reports of pregnant women dying from the flu. In the 2018 flu season 41 people died, which included pregnant women who required intensive care.