Get flu jab 1 month before overseas travel, says MMA

The Malaysian Medical Association says people must prioritise prevention over treatment of flu. (Bernama pic)

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Medical Association has advised those planning to travel overseas to obtain vaccination for influenza a month before departure as it will strengthen the immune system and antibodies.

MMA president Dr N Ganabaskaran said vaccination not only protects the patient but others from being infected with the influenza virus, which can bring about other complications such as pneumonia, particularly among high-risk groups such as children.

Ganabaskaran said patients are easily infected with the virus because of weather changes which can weaken one’s immune system.

He said people need to prioritise prevention over treatment, and those who do not feel well or experience influenza symptoms should seek immediate treatment at a health facility.

He also encouraged adopting good practices such as covering the mouth and nose with tissue or a handkerchief when coughing or sneezing, and reducing outdoor activities.

Ganabaskaran said a healthy diet with plenty of high-fibre food, protein and vitamin C will boost the immune system against the virus, and advised against the consumption of fried and spicy food.

“Drink warm water constantly to ensure your throat is moist. Don’t let it become dry because the virus can attack in a matter of just 10 minutes”, he said.

Dr Hanisah Akbar Tajudin, a medical practitioner for 10 years, said children aged six months to eight years should be vaccinated twice a year to prevent infections.

“If more people get vaccinated, it will create ‘herd immunity’ in which a community is immune and protected against a certain virus,” she said.

This would also prevent the spread of the virus to other people and is an “indirect service” towards other communities.

Hanisah said the influenza vaccine has the potential to reduce the risk of infection in patients by 70%.