KUALA LUMPUR: If you’re planning on travelling overseas, it will do you good to be vaccinated for influenza a month before you depart as this will strengthen your immune system and antibodies, advises Malaysian Medical Association president (MMA) Dr N. Ganabaskaran.

“Vaccination does not only protect the patient but others from being infected with the influenza virus which can bring about other complications such as pneumonia, particularly among high-risk groups such as children,” he said.

In an interview with Bernama, Dr Ganabaskaran explained that among the reasons why patients are easily infected with the virus are weather changes which can weaken one’s immune system, and this situation is often experienced by those who travel overseas.

On the ways to prevent the spread of the virus, he said each individual, including those who are infected, needs to prioritise prevention over treatment, and those who don’t feel well or experience influenza symptoms should seek urgent treatment at a health facility.

A woman uses a face mask to cover her nose and mouth to prevent the risk of getting influenza infection. Photo: Bernama

Dr Ganabaskaran also encouraged the adoption of good practices such as covering one’s mouth and nose with tissue or a handkerchief when coughing or sneezing, and to reduce outdoor activities to avoid spreading the virus.

A healthy diet with plenty of high-fibre food, protein and vitamin C will boost the body’s immune system so it can fight the virus, he said, while advising that fried and spicy food should be avoided.

“Drink warm water constantly to ensure your throat is moist. Don’t let it become dry because the virus can attack in a matter of just 10 minutes”, the doctor added.

Meanwhile, Dr Hanisah Akbar Tajudin, a medical practitioner for 10 years, recommends that children aged six months to eight years receive vaccinations twice a year to prevent against future infections.

“If more people get vaccinated, this will create ‘herd immunity’ which is a community with immunity and protection against a certain virus,” she said, explaining that this would also prevent against the spread of the virus to other people and was an ‘indirect service’ towards wider communities.

She added that the influenza vaccine has the potential to reduce the risk of infection in patients, by 70 percent. – Bernama