THE Department of Health yesterday told the public that getting regular flu shots would not guarantee protection from a “mysterious” disease from China.
“This appears to be a different virus. So the possibility that it can provide protection for this (mysterious) virus is currently low,” said Health Undersecretary Eric Domingo.
He was referring to at least 40 cases of infection in China, the cause of which authorities were still identifying.
Domingo said flu vaccines that are available now were made for a particular virus.
“The flu vaccine is always designed for the predominant flu virus for that year. So the vaccines currently available are only for the circulating virus and not for the one found in China,” said Domingo.
Nevertheless, he encouraged the public to get flu vaccines.
“It is already the flu season. January and February is flu season in the Philippines. So those without flu shots yet, they can get vaccinated already,” said Domingo.
Earlier, the DOH said it is on alert for the threat of the mysterious viral pneumonia.
Reports about the outbreak of pneumonia in the central city of Wuhan in China came after rumors on social media suggested the outbreak could be linked to severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) which killed almost 800 persons and infected about 8,000.
Chinese officials covered up a SARS outbreak for weeks in 2003 before being forced to reveal the epidemic.