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Sep 17, 2015

Healthy Living Gets an Early Flu Shot

At this time of the year and in the month of October, the number of persons affected by the flu or respiratory diseases goes up.  While many persons resist getting the flu vaccine, it advisable to do so and do so early because it takes two weeks for it to work best. This year’s flu vaccine will be available by the end of the month at health facilities around the country and in private medical institutions. In Healthy Living tonight, we discuss with pediatrician, Doctor Victor Rosado, the merits of getting vaccinated early.

 

Marleni Cuellar, Reporting

Given the ninety degree weather we’ve been experiencing the past few months, colds and flues are perhaps the furthest from your mind. While Belize does not have an official “flu season”, the end of September and early October is usually the time most doctors start to see more patients with flu.  This is why getting a flu vaccine is best before the rains start.

 

Victor Rosado

Dr. Victor Rosado, Pediatrician, Belize Medical Association
“Well, I think that more people are open to receiving the flu vaccine. Six years ago when we had this discussion. People were like why are we talking about flu season we don’t have flu seasons in Belize. We definitely have a flu season, it not well documented. We don’t have readily available statistics. But we know from empirical data and from our patients visiting our clinics, we know that during the end of September and early October we see an increase of – we may not be able to define it as flu – but an increase of respiratory illnesses.”

The flu vaccine is available for free at public healthcare facilities countrywide and at a small cost at private institutions. While, people have become more open to getting the shot; there still is a need to urge people to get vaccinated early.
Dr. Victor Rosado

“You want to get it before you start getting ill. That’s one of the main points we want to drive home. When you start having sore throat and headache it is not time to start thinking about getting the flu vaccine. The best time is ideally early in the season – late September or early October because the vaccine works best about two weeks after receiving it. So your body needs about two weeks for the process of the antigen and antibodies to work.”

 

Flu Vaccines are seasonal and are created for each upcoming flu season.  So the current vaccine for the 2015/2016 will be available in Belize in the next few weeks. One common misconception is that the vaccine gives you a flu; which Doctor Rosado says, is just not so.

 

Dr. Victor Rosado

“We do not believe you get flu from the flu vaccine. You might get a sore arm, you might get a headache for the first twenty-four hours, but it scientifically unlikely that your will get actual flu from a vaccine. It’s not a real live virus that you’re getting. Again because people wait too long to get the vaccine that sometimes they are already inoculated with the virus. They get the vaccine and a week later they get the worst flu ever and so obviously they blame the vaccine. But we believe it’s because they got it too late; they were already inoculated with the virus. Some people have a fear of mercury in the vaccine; some people jump on the bandwagon of antivaccers. And so I think it’s our responsibility as a responsible medical institution to wean through all that information and advice people that a flu vaccine is safe.”

 

Young children, elderly persons, and those with chronic conditions can benefit the most from getting a flu shot, but is available for all other ages.

 

Dr. Victor Rosado

“While it is commonplace, there is a cost and it has to do with the amount of viral propagation that is in the community when nobody gets vaccinated. So if you have certain settings like let’s say a school or work setting for example. So it is in the interest of having the employer have ninety-five percent of their staff vaccinated.”

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