Every year, a contagious respiratory infection that is caused by a virus, called the flu, generally occurs during the late fall and winter months in many countries around the world. Expats living and working overseas should take actions and protect against the flu, especially if they reside in countries with limited healthcare. In this article, we will discuss the general facts about the flu, why expats should get the flu shot and steps to reduce their chance of getting sick. Note that these are just general common sense tips, so you should consult your medical professional as each person’s situation is different.
What Are the Symptoms of the Flu?
Generally speaking, you may have the flu if you experience a cough, sore throat, headache, muscle aches, extreme weakness and tiredness, fever, stuffy nose. Some children may have vomiting and diarrhea. The flu can impact people in different ways and the symptoms can vary.
Though many people will recover within 7 to 10 days, the elderly, younger children and people with chronic medical illness are at greater risk of severe complications. In some cases, they can be life-threatening. Expats who are old, young and with underlying illnesses or week immune systems can be more susceptible and vulnerable to the influenza virus.
Why Do Expats Need To Get Vaccinated Every Year?
Due to the fact that flu viruses evolve so quickly, new flu vaccines are released every year. Last year’s vaccines may not be able to protect you from this year’s viruses and may have worn off. For expats living and working overseas, the flu shot is a great way to protect yourself and your families. Good hygiene such as washing your hands can also help. And according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), flu vaccination can reduce doctor’s visits, missed school, work, hospitalizations and deaths related to influenza.
It usually takes up to two weeks to build immunity after a flu shot. After vaccination, your immune system produces antibodies that will protect you from varients of the flu virus that your vaccine covers. Please note, that the flu vaccine will not protect against all varients of the flu, and as such, you should still be cautious.
Expats Living Abroad With Younger Kids and Older Adults
Seniors, children under five, and pregnant women usually have a higher risk of serious complications from the flu. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends annual flu vaccinations for everyone age 6 months or older. Expats living abroad should check with their doctor to be fully protected.
Check With Your Doctor If You Had Severe Reaction To Flu Vaccine
Most types of flu vaccines contain a small amount of egg protein. For people who are allergic to eggs, you should be supervised by a doctor who is able to manage severe allergic conditions. There are also flu vaccines that don’t contain egg proteins. Expats should consult a physician about vaccine options.
How To Protect Yourself and Your Family Against The Flu?
Even after getting the flu shot, expats should wash hands often, using soap and water for at least 15 seconds to prevent the spread of the virus. If conditions not permitted, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
Try not to touch your face often, and clean hard surfaces such as computer keyboards and cell phones. When you are sick, stay at home.
The Importance of International Health Insurance While You Are Abroad
As noted above, contracting the flu virus while living and working overseas can lead to serious complications and medical costs. This is another reminder of the importance of maintaining an international health insurance plan. Although in many major cities there are some satisfactory public hospitals for expats to choose from, the method of payment and the quality of medical treatment may be inadequate. For the popular choice of foreign-run hospitals, expats are usually required to make payment in advance before receiving medical treatment. It can be very expensive for emergency treatment and medications in most of the international hospitals.
Expat Financial offers several different international health insurance plans for expatriates of any nationality. We also offer excellent service before and after you purchase your international health insurance plan. We also offer group plans for multinational firms that have excellent coverage & wellness programs for your employees along with great rates. If you have questions about our international medical insurance plans or you want to discuss your unique needs and produce a customized expat quote, please contact us or complete the quote form. Please note, we are not providing medical advice. You must consult your doctor for more information before taking any action.