The influenza vaccine is updated yearly, in August and September. This is comforting to know, as Columbia Asia Hospital – Setapak Consultant Internal Medicine Physician and Neurologist, Dr. Tan Wee Yong, affirms that the best way to avoid contracting influenza is to get the vaccine yearly.
However, currently it has been a challenge to keep up with vaccine requests from the public in light of the increasing number of influenza cases in the country. So, what does one do in the meantime? “You can boost your own immune system by drinking lots of water, and eating more fruits and vegetables,” says Dr Tan, “But the most important and obvious thing to do is to strengthen your personal hygiene habits.”
It may seem like furious OCD behavior but this is a time when the cliché “better be safe than sorry” can be stressed upon with conviction. “Wash basins are not available everywhere but you still have to have clean hands all the time if that is possible. So apart from applying the handwashing technique of scrubbing your palms, back of your palms, interlacing your fingers, scrubbing them clean — make it a habit of carrying a small bottle of hand sanitizer wherever you go and use it frequently,” advises Dr Tan. He also calls for members of the public to start wearing a proper mask. “Imagine you are on board a train crammed with other passengers. You need to be aware of the risk you are taking every time you inhale in that environment.”