Protect your loved ones against influenza with Fluarix Tetra
10 October 2017
Coughs and sneezes by individuals with influenza or ‘flu’ are just a few ways in which we may have fallen victim to its effects. Flu is a contagious respiratory tract infection caused by influenza viruses of the Orthomyxoviridae family and can be divided into three strains: influenza A, B and C. The impact of flu is globally prolific, with types A and B causing influenza that affects approximately 5–10% of adults and 20–30% of children every year; only types A and B causes human disease of any concern1. In Malaysia, flu is generally seen all year-round, with influenza A usually detected more frequently than influenza B, although year-to-year variation may be considerable4.
The flu virus manifests as symptoms throughout the entire body, infecting the nose, throat, and lungs. People who have the flu often feel some or all of the following tell-tale symptoms: having a fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches and fatigue. One bout of flu can last between one to two weeks, with severe symptoms often subsiding in two to three days. The virus has the potential to spread amongst family members – an adult infected with the virus may be contagious from one day before symptoms start to 5–7 days after becoming sick, whilst children may continue to transmit the virus for up to seven days upon contracting the infection6.
Despite its familiar presence, the severity of flu should not be underestimated; symptoms may range between mild illness to very serious complications such as inflammation of the heart (myocarditis), encephalitis, or multi-organ failure, which can be life-threatening4. Flu can affect anyone, but certain age groups are more vulnerable to contracting the virus and developing associated complications, including: adults over 65 years old, individuals with chronic lung, heart, liver, kidney, neurological, blood disorders, metabolic or endocrine diseases like diabetes mellitus, individuals with weakened immune systems due to medical conditions such as HIV or cancer, pregnant women, children younger than 5 years old, healthcare workers2 and those who travel to countries during their influenza season1. In 2016, figures indicated that up to 500,000 people may die annually as a result of influenza2. There were an estimated 28,000–111,500 deaths in children under five years of age from influenza-associated illness in 2008.
Absenteeism is a common and cumbersome result of the disruption caused by flu. Studies have shown that the infected school children miss classes due to influenza; on average, individuals suffering from flu have been shown to miss 2.8 days of work, illustrating its considerable burden both on society and the individual in terms of limiting workforce and lost productivity.
“Flu can be a severe condition, particularly if we fall into one of the more vulnerable patient profiles,” said Professor Dr Yasmin Malik,Visiting Senior Clinical Consultant, University Malaya Medical Centre. “Even if they are not hospitalized, an influenza-infected person can subsequently develop serious complications like a heart attack or stroke. With the availability of flu vaccines, this risk can be reduced.”
Vaccination is widely acknowledged to provide protection for adults and children from suffering at the hand of multiple influenza strains, helping to reduce the spread of the disease and the risk of complications, protecting individuals – the WHO recommends the use of flu vaccines as one of the most effective ways to prevent the disease2. Fluarix Tetra, an inactivated quadrivalent flu vaccine (QIV) by GSK Pharmaceutical Sdn Bhd, is now available in Malaysia.
“Many of us have suffered from the debilitating effects of flu, either directly or through our loved ones,” stated Dr Rupert Jakes, Medical Affairs Director, Vaccines,GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceutical Sdn Bhd, Malaysia. “As a committed leader in disease prevention and vaccine innovation, GSK is proud to introduce Fluarix Tetra, an inactivated quadrivalent flu vaccine approved for active immunisation to protect adults and children alike from the risks of influenza.”
Unlike trivalent inactivated vaccines (TIVs), which contain two influenza A strains and one influenza B strain, Fluarix Tetra includes two A and two B strains, offering direct and broad protection against the four strains that account for almost all seasonal influenza cases globally. When compared with its TIV counterpart, studies revealed Fluarix Tetra to generate similar immune responses against the three strains contained in both TIV and QIV vaccines, and a higher immune response against the additional B strain, without interfering with the responses of any of the shared antigen. Indicated to protect adults and children over 3 years old, Fluarix Tetra has also been shown to be generally well-tolerated in children15, adults and the elderly.
“Influenza viruses are constantly changing, which is why it is possible to catch the flu more than once. Yearly vaccination, especially around flu season, is one way to protect yourself, your family and friends who may be more vulnerable to the virus2.” added Dr Rupert. “By targeting the strains of flu which have the greatest impact, Fluarix Tetra can help provide better protection than its TIV predecessors, helping to stamp out the burden of influenza for all family members.”
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13 GSK. Fluarix™ Tetra Quadrivalent influenza vaccine (split virion, inactivated) . (2017).
14 Kieninger, D. et al. (2013). BMC Infect Dis. 13: 343.
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16 Curran, M. Drugs. 2010. 70:12, 1519–1543.
17 US Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. How the flu virus can change: “Drift” and “Shift”. [Last accessed: 4 September 2017]. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/viruses/change.htm