Kenya among other countries is in the Southern Hemisphere and this cold season is from March and could extend to October. For the Northern Hemisphere which includes Europe and North America, this cold season is from October/ November and could extend to February. It is recommended that vaccinations be taken before or during the cold season. Many times the flu strain circulating could be different in each hemisphere and there are times when it is the same. Note that UN JMS Clinic can also provide the flu vaccine for the Northern Hemisphere for staff members who are travelling to Europe or North America.
The vaccinations take place yearly because the virus that causes flu mutates constantly, and vaccination offers the only defense measure that one can take in order to remain effectively protected against the disease. The vaccinations have to be formulated from time to time to match the circulating strain. In general, protection acquired from influenza vaccination lasts 6-12 months. The flu shot is approved for use in people older than 6 months, including healthy people and people with chronic medical conditions. The flu vaccine is highly recommended for the elderly who are over 65 years of age; anyone with chronic disease that affects the immune system, such as Hepatitis B or C, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, and those with lung, heart, kidney and liver diseases.
Benefits of the seasonal flu vaccination
Getting the Flu vaccination is important because:
• It is life saving for people at risk i.e. those with chronic conditions
• Avoidance of illness and hospitalization
• Avoidance of absenteeism from work or school
• Reduction in the medical costs associated with treating Flu for the individual or the organization which results in cost saving
• Improved productivity for the organization because of avoidance of absenteeism
We recommend the flu vaccination for all persons, starting with children from 6 months and above. We also recommend the vaccine for:
• The elderly,
• Adults and children with chronic heart disease, lung conditions including asthma, diabetes, and kidney disorders.
• Adults and children with lowered immunity caused by medications or HIV/AIDS
• Women who are in the second or third trimester of pregnancy.
• Critical Staff
• Health care workers
Practice of good personal hygiene is one the most effective strategies any individual can implement to reduce their risk of being infected by the influenza virus. Important points are:.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze;
- If you don't have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve (not with the hand, as that contaminates the hand and can spread organisms further by touching any surface);
- Use a tissue for cleaning/blowing the nose, and dispose of it after use in the waste;
- Wash your hands after coughing or sneezing, using a tissue, or touching any surface that may have become contaminated by a prior user. If using a surgical mask, dispose of it carefully after use and wash hands;
- Wash hands with soap and water or clean with alcohol-based hand cleaner;
- When you wash your hands, wash for at least 20 seconds, making sure that all surfaces of hands and fingers are cleaned.
- Become “touch aware”, and avoid touching surfaces that are likely to have been touched by others (door handles, stair railings, etc);
- Avoid handshaking, social kissing, and other social rituals that involve touching others;
- Avoid respiratory secretions when around other people (e.g. coughing and sneezing). If possible, avoid contact with individuals at risk (small children or those with underlying or chronic illnesses such as immune- suppression or lung disease) until respiratory symptoms have resolved.
For more information on personal hygiene measures, see:
Hand washing technique using soap and water or hand rubbing using alcohol based formulation
On Tuesday August 10, 2010, following advice from the International Health Regulation Emergency Committee the WHO Director General declared that the Pandemic (H1N1) 2009 has entered the post pandemic phase.
This advice was based on a review of the current epidemiological situation indicating that influenza activity worldwide has returned to levels that are normally seen for seasonal influenza.
Influenza is an infectious disease with mostly respiratory characteristics caused by RNA viruses.
For upcoming flu seasons, we continue to recommend that all staff should consider being vaccinated, as influenza viruses continue to pose a risk of disease to many individuals regardless of whether the world is in a pandemic situation or not. Vaccination is of particular importance for those at greater risk of complications from flu.
For more information see on this here
The table below highlights the difference between the Seasonal influenza and the Pandemic influenza as follows:
|Seasonal influenza||Pandemic influenza|
|Human viral respiratory infection||Global outbreak of new strain of human influenza virus|
|Self-limiting, but can be serious and fatal in the elderly and the very young||Causes increased illness and death worldwide|
|Causes an estimated 250,000-500,000 deaths each year||Rare event ;has occurred every 11-4 years over the past two centuries; could cause millions of deaths|
|Occurs seasonally every year; occurs in winter in temperate areas||Three pandemics in the past 100 years; 1968, 1957 and 1918|
|Routine vaccine available||Past three pandemics are believed to have been caused by avian viruses that became human viruses. Vaccines can only be developed once we know the strain of the virus.|