Do I Have COVID-19 or the Flu?

  • Sunway covid recovering
  • Vaccines have helped reduce the severity of symptoms and hospitalisations of COVID-19, but there are still other infectious viruses that need to be kept at bay, such as the influenza.
  • While COVID-19 and the influenza may have similarities in symptoms, there is one way to stay protected – by getting that flu shot.

Keeping track of health scares in 2022 can be rather confusing – trying to ascertain if you are having COVID-19, influenza or the common cold. It can be difficult to differentiate between these illnesses from symptoms alone, as either or all three can present with headaches, fevers and sore throats.

While COVID-19 vaccines and vaccination drives have helped reduce the severity of symptoms; much less is known about the influenza shot that can provide an extra layer of protection.

This is why we have consulted Dr Kow Ken Siong, Consultant Respiratory Physician from Sunway Medical Centre on the five reasons why we should get our flu shots today!

Reason #1: Stops Serious Symptoms

A man in a grey jacket sneezing, with a laptop in front of him

Building a stronger immunity is key to preventing viruses from attacking the body

Dr Kow shares that influenza viruses are more likely to cause serious symptoms compared to the common cold. While there are common misconceptions about the flu shot lowering one’s immunity, the vaccine actually comprises antigens that produces antibodies against the virus – and who does not want better, stronger immunity?

Reason #2 – Protect Loved Ones and the Vulnerable

A couple sitting on the bench, with a man putting his hand over the shoulder of the woman, while both of them read a newsletter.

The vaccine helps protect you and your loved ones from viruses

Not all superheroes wear capes – some come in the form of fully vaccinated individuals! Flu shots are relatively safe, with minimal side effects. While high-risk groups – such as young children above the age of six months, elderlies above 60, or immunocompromised patients with diabetes, heart, lung or kidney diseases – should be vaccinated annually, the flu virus is also highly contagious, so getting a flu shot is not only for the sake of your own health, but also the best way to protect others.

Reason #3 – You Only Get Shot Once (A Year)

A pastel pink background, with a gloved hand with an injection syringe and the words ”Vaccine” displayed there

The effectiveness of vaccines does fade over time, and it is recommended to get the flu shot on an annual basis

Getting the double COVID-19 vaccines and the booster jabs may have been a painful experience for those with fear of needles, but it was important to do so to achieve herd immunity (three cheers for everyone who did!).

Dr Kow shares that only one flu shot is needed every year – so it is not too much of a hassle to get one.

Reason #4 – Shield Up!

Dr Kow explains that the influenza shot can contain either three (trivalent) or four (quadrivalent) of the predominant strains of Influenza A or B predicted for the year.

Dr. Kow’s portrait shot, in a grey blazer and blue and gold tie

Dr Kow shares that it is better to be prepared so one is safe from serious strains of the influenza

“Vaccines work by triggering our immune system to recognise and fight diseases, in this case the influenza virus. Influenza viruses can mutate rapidly and active strains may change every year, therefore the vaccine is tailored to combat likely virus strains that will emerge each year. Hence, it is recommended to get vaccinated every year in order for the body to resist the influenza virus, especially among high-risk groups,” Dr. Kow stresses.

Reason #5 – Get it Anytime, Anywhere

Masked-clad medical officers handling the telemedicine centre

Medical officers and trained personnel will attend to your needs at the SMC telemedicine command centre (TCC), including setting up an appointment for your flu shot (Credit: Sunway Medical Centre)

The flu shot is available anytime throughout the year in Malaysia, and you can get your annual shot at any government or private clinics and hospitals that offer the service. There is no need to rush for vaccine spots, contact our Telemedicine Command Centre (TCC) at Sunway Medical Centre to make an appointment beforehand to secure a slot.


This article first appeared in Berita Sunway Issue 77


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