As temperature drops, parents advised to ensure children receive flu vaccine to increase immunity

  • Resource: Taiwan CDC
  • Release date: 11/26/2018 1:20:41 PM

As the temperature gradually decreases, influenza viruses thrive.Although influenza activity in Taiwan has remained at a low level,severe cases and deaths associated with influenza infection havecontinued to occur. Hence, the public is urged to remain vigilant forinfluenza infection. Vaccination remains the single most effective wayto prevent influenza infection. On November 20, 2018, the TaiwanCenters for Disease Control (Taiwan CDC) specially invited 2 medicalofficers, Dr. Wei Hsin-yi (魏欣怡) and Dr. Liu Yu-lun (劉宇倫), and theirchildren to receive the influenza vaccine. In addition, they were alsoasked to illustrate the threat influenza viruses pose to infants andchildren from the doctor’s perspective and the importance of influenzavaccination.

Dr. Wei pointed out that infants and children are at a higher risk ofdeveloping serious influenza-related complications such as pneumonia,encephalitis, myocarditis and pericarditis compared to adults.Therefore, she advised the public to ensure infants and children athome receive the influenza vaccine every year to ward off infection andreduce the risk of developing related complications and death. Dr. Liustressed that receiving the influenza vaccine does not merely protectthe individual from influenza, but also the family and friends aroundhim/her. As a result, the more people that receive the influenzavaccine, the better the herd immunity. Moreover, it takes time for aperson’s body to develop a full immune response to the vaccine. Thepublic is urged to take infants and children to receive the influenzavaccine as soon as possible, preferably before the influenza season. Inaddition, children aged 8 and below who will be receiving their firstinfluenza vaccine will need to receive 2 doses of the vaccine,administered at least 4 weeks apart, to ensure the development of afull immune response.

Since the beginning of this year’s seasonal influenza vaccinationcampaign, as of November 18, a total of 3,910,000 doses of influenzavaccine have been administered. During the same period last year, atotal of 3,750,000 doses of the vaccine were administered. According tothe disease surveillance data compiled by Taiwan CDC, the overallinfluenza activity in Taiwan has remained at a low level. From November11 to 17, the number of people seeking ER and outpatient consultationfor influenza-like illness was 54,673, which is slightly higher thanthat the previous week.  Additionally, 1 new death associated withinfluenza infection reported last week was confirmed in an over90-year-old female who resided in central Taiwan and had medicalhistory of chronic conditions. The case was infected with H3N2. SinceOctober 1, 2018, a cumulative total of 71 cases of influenzacomplications, including 45 cases caused by H3N2 (63%), have beenconfirmed. Among the 5 deaths associated with influenza infection, 3were caused by H1N1 and 2 were caused by H3N2. During the past 4 weeks,H3N2 and H1N1 have been the dominant strains circulating in thecommunity. Recently, influenza activity in temperate countries in thenorthern hemisphere has remained low, except Canada and Korea that haveboth reported influenza activity above the epidemic threshold. Thusfar, the dominant strain in most countries has been H1N1. However, HongKong, Singapore and Europe have all reported H1N1 and H3N2 as thedominant strains circulating in their communities.

Taiwan CDC once again reminds the public to receive the annual seasonalinfluenza vaccine, practice good personal hygiene such as payingadditional attention to respiratory hygiene and cough etiquette, andavoid visiting crowded and poorly ventilated public places to preventinfluenza.  In addition, once influenza-like symptoms develop,infected individuals should put on a surgical mask, seek immediatemedical attention, rest at home, and only resume school or work afterfull recovery to prevent the further spread of the virus that couldlead to outbreaks. If signs of severe complications such as breathingdifficulty, shortness of breath, cyanosis, blood-stained mucus orthickening of mucus, chest pain, change of consciousness, or low bloodpressure develop, please seek immediate medical attention at a largehospital to ensure prompt treatment. For more information, please visitthe Taiwan CDC website at http://www.cdc.gov.tw or call the toll-freeCommunicable Disease Reporting and Consultation Hotline, 1922 (or0800-001922).