Experts from the Chinese Health Ministry are calling on the public to inoculate themselves against the flu in order to help prevent a return of the SARS virus this winter and next spring. As both flu and SARS have similar symptoms and can be easily confused, people are hoping the vaccine will distinguish sufferers of the flu from those of SARS.
Influenza is a respiratory infection that produces fever, chills, muscle aches and coughing, which symptoms are all similar to those of SARS. Flu shots are effective at preventing the disease in infants, students, medical personnel, and people with 60-years-old or above and therefore more vulnerable to the disease. Experts say the best time to take the vaccine is between September and November.
He Xiong, deputy director of Beijing Disease Prevention and Control Center, said, "The anti-flu vaccine will help prevent cross infection between suspected SARS cases and influenza patients. And there are rows of people waiting in outpatient departments and emergency centers. "
In Beijing, anyone who wants a flu shot will be able to get one in 427 inoculation centers. Over 1 million flu vaccines have been imported to Beijing this year, 4 times the number last year. The call from the ministry came as some areas in China already began preparing prevention measures against SARS for the coming winter and spring seasons.
(CCTV.com September 18, 2003)