What is the Flu?
The flu, or “influenza” is a contagious viral illness easily transmitted through droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes or speaks, or indirectly through contact with contaminated surfaces.
There are three main types of influenza viruses – Type A, Type B and Type C, with Types A and B being the common ones responsible for flu outbreaks.
Common symptoms of influenza include sore throat, runny nose, cough, fever, body aches and headaches.
Complications from Influenza
Severe complications can sometimes occur with susceptible individuals. These complications include ear infection, sinusitis, bronchitis, pneumonia and meningitis, which could be potentially fatal.
Groups at risk of developing complications are:
- Older persons aged 65 years and above
- Young children between 6 months and 5 years of age
- Pregnant women
- Those with weakened immune systems eg due to medications or HIV
- Persons with underlying chronic illnesses like asthma, diabetes, heart or lung disease, kidney or liver disease
- Those on long term aspirin therapy
The mainstay of treatment is supportive with adequate hydration, symptomatic relief, fever management and monitoring for complications. Antiviral medications, which reduce the ability of the virus to reproduce, are also available to reduce the severity of flu symptoms and expedite recovery.
Seasonal flu vaccination is easily available and recommended for protection against the virus. The Health Promotion Board (HPB) recommends yearly vaccination for protection against the flu.
Medisave can be used to offset the cost of vaccination in persons at risk of developing flu related complications. Under the Medisave500 scheme, Singaporeans can utilise up to $500 of their Medisave annually for certain recommended vaccinations (subject to terms and conditions). You can use your Medisave to pay for yourself, or your immediate family members (spouse, children and parents).
It takes about 2 weeks to afford protection, hence is it advisable to get vaccinated before the flu season starts (usually between May to July, and again between December to February). Healthcare workers and travellers should also be vaccinated.
From 1 November 2020, Singaporeans will enjoy higher subsidies for influenza vaccination which is one of the nationally-recommended vaccinations listed on the Subsidised Vaccine List (SVL) administered at CHAS GP clinics. After government subsidies, eligible Singaporeans need only pay the following amounts for the flu vaccinations administered at any 7 Minmed CHAS clinics:
Amount to pay for flu vaccination at any 7 Minmed clinics islandwide
Eligible Singaporean children
Eligible Pioneer Generation cardholders
Eligible Merdeka Generation, CHAS Blue and Orange cardholders
Other eligible adult Singaporeans
For more details on CHAS Eligibility criteria, refer to the National Adult Immunisation Schedule
Who is the vaccine recommended for?
A single dose is required annually or per season if indicated.
The vaccine is recommended for the following groups:
- Persons aged 65 years or older
- Persons aged 18 years and above who are receiving long term aspirin therapy
- Women at all stages of pregnancy
- Patients who have chronic medical conditions such as heart or lung disease, including asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), diabetes, hypertension, lipid disorders, asthma, chronic kidney disease (CKD), and ischaemic heart disease (IHD)
- Persons receiving intermediate and long term care (ILTC) services
Side effects from the flu vaccination are mild, with common ones being soreness, mild redness or swelling around the injection site, low grade fever, headache and muscle aches which resolve spontaneously.
Can I get vaccinated at your clinics?
Minmed Clinics offer flu vaccinations and are Medisave-accredited. Please check with our clinic staff if you wish to utilise your Medisave.
Dr Lisa Chen
M.B.B.S. (Singapore) Grad. | Dip. Occupational Medicine
Dr Lisa Chen is a deeply passionate family physician and designated workplace doctor with an endearing commitment to the successful attainment of health and wellness at individual, workplace and community levels. Having worked widely with family practice clinics and major medical disciplines, she is thoroughly committed to the promotion and sustenance of health and quality of life for everyone.