Don’t Let the Flu Stop You from Life’s Adventures

Wednesday, May 03, 2023

Whether it’s catching up with loved ones, going on new adventures or witnessing important milestones – don’t let the flu stop you from being present for the things that matter most. Enjoy a #Unstoppable2023 by safeguarding your health from the flu and other infectious diseases. 


Influenza can be a critical illness that can lead to complications, hospitalizations, and even death in high-risk people.

Seasonal influenza occurs globally and is estimated to infect (symptomatically or asymptomatically in 5 unvaccinated children and 10 unvaccinated adults. In addition, up to 5 million people fall severely ill because of the flu, and every year, up to 650,000 people are at risk of dying globally because of influenza-associated respiratory diseases.

GSK Unstoppable Zoom Conference

Highlights during the Zoom Conference:

Ingrid Nieto-Pagulayan, Host: If you or a guest that you’ve assisted in any of your travels has ever been sick while traveling?

Rafael Dionisio, President and CEO of Make a Difference (MAD) Travel: Personally, whenever I have sickness, I’ll cancel immediately just out of respect to those people around me. Also, recently we had trips around Rizal and Zambales and we had children and adults on that trip who got sick. When traveling, people are engaged in what they're doing and kind of disregard the symptoms (a stuffy nose or itchy throat) but we need to be mindful of other people, 

Doc Jing, how can we tell if it's a common cold or flu?

Dr. Jing Velasco-Aro, Vaccine Medical Head, GSK: 
(The common cold and flu are) both respiratory illnesses. “Although, the symptoms might be similar among the two (common cold vs. flu) which people might find difficult to differentiate just by minding the symptoms alone. But in general, the flu can be worse than your common colds.”

Mr. Dionisio: What's the best way to prevent getting sick?
Dr. Velasco-Aro: The best way is by not to mingle w/ other people, not to go in public spaces, wear masks, do hand hygiene (washing your hands, alcohol rubs/gels), avoid touching your face, have enough rest, have a healthy diet: keep these healthy habits while conversing with other people. Also, have a routine check-up to be preventive. Vaccination isn’t for kids alone, adults need this as well (through vaccination, it will boost your immune system.

Host: When is the best time to get the flu vaccine?
Dr. Velasco-Aro:  The influenza virus thrives in weathers (rainy & humid). In the Philippines, it circulates all year-round. Annual peaks of Flu (between June to November), now is the best time to get a flu vaccine and when you’re planning to travel at least 2 weeks before your travel you can get a flu vaccine for the antibodies to be activated but don’t wait whenever you’re just traveling: get a vaccine whenever you can. You have to get yourselves vaccinated, you don’t need to wait whenever you travel. Go to your doctors for your shots and their recommendations. 

Host: What if there are people who might feel that their antibodies are working just fine, what else should we take into consideration when getting a flu vaccine and why should we get it? 
Dr. Velasco-Aro: People might think that, yes, their antibodies are fine and we do have healthy habits. But we want to optimize getting ourselves healthy and be vaccinated (other benefits: less absenteeism from work, less complications from diseases or hospitalizations, and also we are preventing the people around us from getting sick as well. In helping ourselves, we’re also protecting around us)

Host: Are there specific groups who are more at risk?
Dr. Velasco-Aro: Everyone can get the flu, as early as a 6 month old. Who is the most vulnerable? These children, parents, and grandparents are vulnerable to getting the flu. Even pregnant women are at risk of severe complications from having a flu. We may be actually okay but the people around us are at risk especially our parents with chronic conditions (asthma, COPD, diabetes, or heart diseases). 

Mr. Dionisio: Doc you said that the flu circulates year-round, how can I prepare? Does this virus change? For example, can it be more prevalent?
Dr. Velasco-Aro: The flu changes or mutates yearly; which is why it getting a flu vaccine yearly is recommended (Mismatch - even though you were vaccinated last year, you might think that it's okay and you are protected already but as I’ve mentioned your immunity also drops and the circulating chain is differ from year-to-year. That’s why annually you have to get your shots and go to your doctors because getting your flu vaccine yearly would actually reduce your likelihood of getting the disease by 40-60%.) 

A flu vaccine helps your immune system provide optimal protection against the flu, enabling you to live your life to the fullest. For vaccinated children as young as six months and older adults. A flu shot can be lifesaving.3
Flu vaccine protection declines over time due to the constant changing of the flu virus strain. Due to this, vaccines are annually reviewed and produced to ensure optimal protection against the current flu virus.

The best time to get your flu shot is before the flu season starts.
In the Philippines, influenza viruses circulate year-round with multiple annual peaks. Increased activity is seen from June to November. If you can get vaccinated as early as you can, the better.

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