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Latest quadrivalent vaccine joins list of available flu vaccine

Dr Joslyn Ngu
04 Dec 2017

A quadrivalent influenza vaccine consisting of H1N1, H3N2, B-Yamagata and B-Victoria strains is now available locally.

“Influenza viruses are constantly changing, which is why it is possible to catch the flu more than once. Annual vaccination, particularly around flu season, is a way to protect yourself, family and friends, said Dr Rupert Jakes, Medical Affairs Director, Vaccines, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) Pharmaceutical Sdn Bhd, Malaysia. By targeting four flu strains, this new vaccine can provide better protection than its trivalent predecessors, he said.

Flu can be a severe condition, particularly if it occurs in more vulnerable patients, said Professor Yasmin Malik, visiting senior clinical consultant, University Malaya Medical Centre. Even if the patient is not hospitalized, he can develop serious complications such as heart attack and stroke. With the availability of flu vaccines, the risk of serious complications can be reduced.

In temperate countries, the incidence of influenza rises in the winter because of virus mutations, and preference for cold and dry weather conditions, said Yasmin. Meanwhile, in tropical countries like Malaysia, influenza occurs year-round with no seasonal trends. However, there is an increase in infections during rainy seasons.

Elaborating on influenza statistic in the country, she said serosurveillance using molecular tests showed that influenza viruses were detected in 13 percent of respiratory samples obtained from patients with influenza-like illness. This suggests that the incidence of the virus infection is underestimated.

Influenza can lead to serious complications, particularly in pregnant women, children between the ages of 6 and 59 months, the elderly—above the age of 64, those with weakened immune systems, healthcare professionals and those with specific medical conditions such as asthma and chronic heart disease, said Yasmin.

Complications that may occur include Guillain-Barre syndrome, acute viral encephalitis in children, Reye’s syndrome in children, increased risk of heart attack and stroke, and pneumonia.

The vaccine is an inactivated influenza vaccine that is indicated for adults, and children above the age of 2. It has been shown to be well-tolerated in children, adults and the elderly. The vaccine is to be administered intramuscularly, preferably in the deltoid or anterolateral thigh muscles.

Yasmin and Jakes were speaking at the media launch of Fluarix Tetra by GSK, held recently in Kuala Lumpur.

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Most Read Articles
Pank Jit Sin, 02 May 2018
Leptospirosis is an endemic disease in Malaysia, but may be missed as doctors are not looking for it. 
Jairia Dela Cruz, 02 Oct 2018
Hepatitis D virus infection is highly prevalent in subgroups of individuals with intravenous drug use and those with high-risk sexual behaviour, study has reported. Its prevalence has also increased twofold over time in patients infected with hepatitis B virus.
Dr. Joseph Delano Fule Robles, 14 Sep 2018

The nucleotide analogue tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (TDF) is associated with mild renal impairment in a minority of patients being treated for chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection, a study by the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) has shown.

07 Sep 2018
Children with Down syndrome appear to have an elevated risk of developing severe respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection, a study has found.