Since the detection of the outbreak in Wuhan, China in late 2019, everyone is now aware that there are different types of viruses present in our world. Some viruses affect animals only, while others affect humans and some both. Some cause great havoc, leading to global pandemics and some leave us with what we know as the common cold. The reality is that viruses behave differently as part of their nature and depending on the environment they live in. Interestingly, this sounds comparable to human behaviour, with the major difference, we humans have the unique gift of choice. It is with great scientific advances that humans have the luxury of exercising this choice.
Long ago in the age of infectious disease, pandemics, outbreaks, and high death rates affected world population growth. As scientists continued to investigate the related causes, viruses were identified, and formulas were created to protect the human species from devasting consequences. Since the introduction of vaccines, the world has been spared and we moved into the era of chronic disease aka the lifestyle diseases. But this doesn’t mean that viruses are no longer a cause for concern. Every year the scientific and healthcare community work diligently to protect its workers and the public from the ill effects of the annual influenza virus. We work to prevent because history has shown us what can happen if we do nothing.
Influenza rates are expected to go back up this year after the drop during the COVID-19 pandemic. Influenza is a special virus, different from the common cold and the coronavirus. There are different strains that can bring harm to people who are in contact with it through respiratory droplets. This then affects us with symptoms of fever, fatigue, cough, sore throat, runny nose, body pains, and headaches. Our bodies undergo a major battle when this happens and if our immune systems are not strong enough complications such as pneumonia, sinus and ear infections, or even more serious heart and brain infections can occur. (No, we aren’t trying to scare you, we haven’t mentioned the worst one or the statistics.)
This means that as healthcare workers it is important for us to protect those who are at a higher risk of exposure at work and those people with weaker immune systems due to age, medical conditions, or pregnancy. Our best way to prevent serious illness when faced with the influenza season is to take the annual ‘flu shot’. Scientists work on developing better flu shots every year to protect people from ill health by pre-boosting the immune system to fight the viral strain.
The vaccine we have available is well-known and trusted. It adheres to the latest CDC guidelines which offers protection from 2 strains of Influenza A and 2 strains of Influenza B. The vaccines are certified halal and has been improved to limit possible side effects. Some common side effects are pain and swelling at the site of the injection, low grade headaches and fever which are usually short term.
The other way to help prevent serious outcomes is by seeing a doctor early, getting diagnosed early and starting anti-viral treatment within the first 3 days of exposure to the virus. This is important for a quick recovery if infected, especially if the vaccine was not taken.
We at Medi Sense Clinic are here to support you and your workforce from ill health, sickness absence and healthcare costs that can occur because of this preventable burden of disease. We are happy to address any concerns you may have and are ready and willing to work with your team to protect us all.
Dr. Farah Ahmed,
General Practitioner and Corporate Wellbeing Consultant