“Influenza”, commonly known as “flu”, is a highly contagious disease with symptoms such as fever, cough, runny nose, sore throat, chills, joint and muscle pain, stomach symptoms, headache and extreme tiredness.
Flu is usually worse than the common cold. Your child may spend a few days in bed recovering. It can lead to life-threatening complications such as pneumonia, myocarditis (inflammation of the heart) and encephalitis (inflammation of the brain). Other associated complications include bronchitis, sinusitis and middle ear infection.
There are many flu viruses, and they are always changing. As the flu virus is always changing, a new vaccine is made every six months to protect against strains that are likely to cause disease in the upcoming season. Six-monthly to yearly vaccination is required to provide up-to-date protection. Even when the vaccine does not exactly match these viruses, it may still provide some protection.
Only children ≥ six months old are eligible for the vaccine. This involves a single injection into the arm or thigh. However, younger children from six months to nine years old who are getting the vaccine for the first time will need two doses during a single flu season. The vaccine takes approximately two weeks to provide protection.
Influenza virus circulates throughout the year in Singapore. There are two peak flu seasons every year in Singapore: April to July and November to January.
Children at high risk for developing complications from influenza include: