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Taiwan public encouraged to get flu shots as cases mount

Publication Date : 29-01-2014


Doctors yesterday called for people to receive influenza vaccination injections soon as the reported cases of flu rocketed in this month.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, there are 201 severe cases of influenza so far, which is 20 times the amount as of last January. The next peak of flu cases will possibly occur during Chinese New Year, and the second peak after March, said National Taiwan University Hospital physician Huang Li-min, who stressed that senior citizens and children below 5 should be injected with the quadrivalent influenza vaccines first, which offers a larger scope of protection.

Vaccinations that offer complete protection from influenzas A and B are available in Taipei currently. The CDC is providing quadrivalent influenza vaccinations, which the citizens have to pay for and are more expensive than the previous types. Despite the differences in price, people are still encouraged to be vaccinated as the injection provides year-long protection.

Huang pointed out that despite 90 per cent of the government-funded flu vaccinations were injected last year, the number of cases continues to mount as there are three types of influenza going around this year, as opposed the commonly-seen one type infections. Usually, the second type of virus starts to spread only after Chinese New Year.

The three types of influenza spreading with the arrival of 2014 are influenza A subtypes H3N2, H1N1 and influenza B lineage Victoria; all of which having fired up as people's immune systems weakened after the flu infection had decreased two years ago, said Huang.

People can differentiate which type of virus they are infected with by the symptoms; influenza B causes soreness and pain in the calves, but the main symptoms tend to be similar, said Huang. There are more patients with influenza A than influenza B, and caused the majority of complications and deaths, but doctors are still warning people to take caution regarding influenza B.

Chinese New Year will be a time when the viruses spread rapidly as people gather together for meals and conversation, so it would be the best if one attends the family gatherings well-prepared.


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