While there is still no specific vaccine for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), an infectious disease expert is saying that the flu vaccine and pneumonia vaccine can protect against the severe complications of the disease.
According to Dr. Lulu Bravo, Philippine Foundation for Vaccination executive director and a professor emeritus of Pediatric Infectious and Tropical Diseases at the University of the Philippines-Manila, flu and anti-pneumonia shots can be like a “face mask and a personal protective equipment that shield one’s body against COVID-19 complications.”
“When COVID patients have secondary infections like influenza, and sometimes bacterial, like pneumococcal disease, that could actually make it more severe. That’s why the experts are saying that we also need to vaccinate against preventable diseases,” Dr. Bravo explained in a press briefing, as reported by The Manila Times.
She cited a study that found that around three percent of those with COVID-19 contract influenza, warning that the influenza season could “peak” in August.
Getting the vaccines can be a big help in reducing hospital admissions and easing the burden of the health care system that is currently struggling from the pandemic, according to Dr. Bravo.
“Our healthcare facilities, institutions, and workers are experiencing extreme fatigue due to the challenges of responding to COVID-19 making it more difficult to provide medical attention to people with other diseases,” she said. “With fewer people needing medical attention, we can lighten the load on our healthcare facilities and allow them to focus more on COVID-19 cases.”
Previously, the World Health Organization said that vaccines against pneumonia and the flu do not provide protection against COVID-19. However, they reiterate that vaccination against respiratory illnesses is highly recommended to protect your health.
Like Dr. Bravo, other Philippine experts agree that the two vaccines might lessen the risk of complications. Dr. Edsel Maurice Salvana, M.D., DTM&H, FPCP, FIDSA, an infectious disease specialist and molecular biologist at the University of the Philippines and the Philippine General Hospital, said in an ABS-CBN News report last February 2020 that many of the COVID-19 fatalities had preexisting conditions. If you were vaccinated, he reasoned, it could be an added protection.
“Magpabakuna kayo because it might save your life. Kahit wala pa tayong nCoV na vaccine, meron naman tayong vaccine sa trangkaso at sa iba’t ibang bagay, sa pneumonia,” he said in the report.
He adds, “Kasi nga ‘yung mga namatay sa nCoV… karamihan do’n, 70 percent, meron silang preexisting illness or matandang-matanda or batang-bata… Mas mabubuhay ka kung healthy ka.”
Dr. Beaver Tamesis, the president of the Philippine Pharmaceutical & Healthcare Association of the Philippines, encourages the elderly to get vaccinated since they are more vulnerable to the disease.
“Anybody above 50 to 55 years old, basta meron underlying disease — mahina ang baga, chronic asthma, may diabetes na uncontrolled, cardiovascular conditions — [it would be] best magpabakuna na kayo against pneumonia because that would really help protect or reduce your chances of infection,” he told ABS-CBN News.
According to the latest Childhood Immunization Schedule, the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) is recommended to be given to kids in a series of four doses: at 6 to 8 weeks old, 4 months, 6 months, and 12 to 15 months. The influenza vaccine can be given starting at 6 months old, and is to be administered yearly.
For adults, the PCV vaccine may be given yearly or every five years, depending on which type you received. The flu vaccine is given every year, usually between February to June. It is also safe for pregnant women. According to an article by Cosmo.ph, the two vaccines are also recommended to individuals with co-morbidities like asthma, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and cancer.
Worried about your newborn in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic? Click here for ways to keep him safe against the disease.
For the latest news and updates on COVID-19, check out reportr.world/covid-19.