Health experts are encouraging the public to get vaccinated against the flu amid the continued spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the country.
Dr. Arthur Roman, an official of the Philippine Society for Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (PSMID) during a media forum on Thursday, July 23, said, flu vaccination matters even more during this time, noting it will prevent the development of signs and symptoms similar to COVID-19.
“When you get the flu vaccine, you don’t get the flu and you don’t develop signs and symptoms na maaring maipagkamali mo na COVID-19 (which can be mistaken for COVID-19),” he said.
“So yung risk of you developing unnecessary anxiety kasi baka isipin mo may COVID-19 ka, nawawala iyon kasi you get the flu vaccine and the risk of you getting these signs and symptoms ay bumababa rin (So the risk of you developing unnecessary anxiety because you might think you have COVID-19—it disappears– because you get the flu vaccine and the risk of you getting these signs and symptoms also decreases),” he added.
To note, some of the signs and symptoms of COVID-19 similar to flu include fever, cough, body aches, fatigue, and sore throat.
The public should not only be proactive in fighting COVID-19 “but also other infectious diseases that continuously affect the lives of many Filipinos,” said Philippine Foundation for Vaccination (PFV) President Dr. Liza Gonzales.
“Although the flu vaccine cannot prevent COVID-19, it can still help protect even the most vulnerable among us against complications from the disease, making it a beneficial option we can take advantage of to keep ourselves healthy,” she said.
Roman underscored that a person should prevent influenza infection as it can weaken one’s immune system, thus making an individual “susceptible’ to COVID-19.
“When you develop any type of infection such as influenza virus infection— bumababa rin ang immune system. And when your immune system is low, then opportunistic infection….kagaya ng COVID-19 ay maaari kang atakihin (When you develop any type of infection such as influenza virus infection — the immune system becomes low. And when your immune system is low, then opportunistic infection like COVID-19 can attack you),” he said.
“When you have COVID-19 infection and you also develop the influenza infection, this combination can actually lead to very serious complications,” he added.
Roman added it can also help keep hospitals from becoming overwhelmed.
“Alam naman natin na yung mga hospital—they are already catering to a lot of COVID-19 cases. The tendency for us to consult doctors ay mas bumababa. Kumbaga hindi na tayo makiki-agaw sa mga health services na prinoprovide ng hospital ngayon (We know that hospitals are already catering to a lot of COVID-19 cases. The tendency for us to consult doctors will be less. It is as if we will not add to the burden in the health services being provided by the hospitals at present),” he said.
Roman encouraged medical professionals to ensure their patients will get immunized against flu.
Among his recommendations in order for the medical professionals to administer the anti-flu shot include setting home visits by appointment, setting a date for vaccination, or conducting drive thru-like arrangement of giving the vaccine outside hospitals.
“We have to make innovations because having the pandemic doesn’t mean we have to stop giving our other necessary services, such as immunization,” he said.
“Vaccination in general is one way for you to keep yourself healthy because it is a form of prevention. Staying healthy at this time is your best shot against preventing COVID-19 infection,” he emphasized.