AN ACT OF LOVE

Annual flu vaccination that helps to prevent unnecessary expenses

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Recently, there have been cases of influenza reported throughout Malaysia. Even though the cases recorded by the Ministry of Health (MOH) are still within the normal range and there is no reason to panic, it is important for everyone to take necessary precautions to protect oneself from the influenza virus or any other kind of similar infection diseases.

To shine a light on this, we spoke to General Manager of Sanofi Pasteur for Malaysia and Brunei, Camille de Lataillade during a recent event to launch the ‘Flu Prevention Act of Love’ campaign.

1Twenty80: Firstly, what was the idea behind ‘flu prevention is an act of love’ campaign?

Camille de Lataillade: The ‘Flu Prevention Is An Act of Love’ campaign is a community education campaign, to drive the urgency of protecting your loved ones through annual flu vaccination.

This campaign is organised by the Immunise4Life (IFL) programme, in association with the Malaysian Influenza Working Group (MIWG) and the Vaccination is Protection (VIP) initiative, supported by Sanofi Pasteur.

Our focus is to reduce the risk of infection especially among high-risk groups, which are:

  • Young children from six months to five years old, whose immune systems are still vulnerable. 
  • Elderly parents at the age of 65 and above as they are more likely to be hospitalised and face a higher risk of life-threatening complications. 
  • Millions of Malaysians with chronic conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease (as flu can worsen their condition even when their conditions are well controlled), and possibly trigger a stroke, heart attack, diabetic emergencies, and respiratory failure.

1Twenty80: Could you share with us why you support this campaign?

Camille: Influenza (flu) is at the very heart of Sanofi Pasteur. We produce 200 million doses of vaccines every year, approximately 40 percent of the worldwide supply. Flu is a severe disease that can lead to dramatic complications. However, in Malaysia, the coverage rate is only two percent, which is very low. This means only two out of 100 people are vaccinated!

This is why we support this campaign, to help educate the public as many people still think that influenza is a disease that is only prevalent in cold climates which is incorrect. In tropical climates, the flu virus circulates throughout the year.

Supporting this campaign is part of our overall vision, which is to see a world where nobody has to suffer from a vaccine-preventable disease.

Quote: Flu is a severe disease that can lead to dramatic complications. However, in Malaysia, the coverage rate is only two percent, which is very low.

1Twenty80: Do let us know how the journey of this campaign begun?

Camille: Many healthcare professionals are advocates of flu prevention and we decided to lend our support to Immunise4Life and the Malaysian Influenza Working Group to develop a flu awareness campaign with the goal of driving more urgency to vaccinate high risk groups.

1Twenty80: How does Tun Dr. Siti Hasmah play a role in this particular campaign?

Camille: Well, Tun Dr. Siti Hasmah is the patron of the Immunise4Life programme and she believes in the importance of preventing the flu. Tun Dr. Siti along with her husband Yang Amat Berhormat Tun Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad, makes it a point to receive flu vaccinations every year.

1Twenty80: When it comes to flu prevention, what do you feel is the most important thing that every individual should take note of?

Camille: Firstly, influenza is different from the common cold even though the symptoms may appear similar. The flu is more severe and can lead to hospitalisation and even loss of life.

Apart from that, preventing flu helps to protect everyone by reducing the severity of the disease, the incidence of complications and deaths. Lastly, annual vaccinations are the most effective way to prevent the flu and they must be taken annually as the influenza strains are constantly changing.

Quote: When it comes to flu prevention, vaccination is the key for staying healthy.

1Twenty80: Do you think there is a lack of knowledge and awareness towards influenza vaccination?

Camille: Certainly! With a vaccination rate that is only two percent, it is clear that many Malaysians do not realise that the flu can be life-threatening.

Furthermore, there is the perception that vaccinations are just for children or that the flu is a cold-weather disease. However, both of these are fallacies that can be debunked with facts, as follows:

There are an estimated 1 billion cases of flu annually:

  • The US Centres for Disease Control reports that most deaths from flu occur among the elderly aged 75 and above, and Southeast Asia has the third-highest flu mortality risk.2

1Twenty80: Would you like to share with us your thoughts on staying healthy?

Camille: When it comes to flu prevention, vaccination is the key for staying healthy. Taking vitamins and washing your hands is not sufficient as the flu virus is extremely contagious, with very serious consequences. The flu virus can stay on hard surfaces for up to 24 hours. 

References:

World Health Organization. Global Influenza Strategy 2019-2030. Accessed November 2019: https://www.who. int/influenza/global_influenza_strategy_2019_2030/en/ 

World Health Organization. News release on flu mortality in 2017. Accessed November 2019: https://www.who.int/en/news-room/detail/14-12-2017-up-to-650-000-people-die-of-respiratory-diseases-linked-to-seasonal-flu-each-year 

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