There are few things worse than falling sick in a foreign country. Although Yamaguchi has enjoyed a warm autumn season—with the leaves still sporting some lovely fall colors—it’s safe to say that winter will be upon us before we know it. And with the arrival of winter comes the coughing and sniffing that the yearly bout of colds brings. However careful we may be to wash our hands at every opportunity, carry a bottle of purifying hand sanitizer with us at all times or distance ourselves from that co-worker who seems to cough indiscriminately close to you； at some time during the winter, most of us fall victim to a nasty cold.
As opposed to this, flu vaccinations provide a much stronger guarantee that you will not succumb to this more serious illness. In Japan, although not covered by health insurance, at most local health centers and medical clinics, vaccinations are offered at an affordable price and Yamaguchi Prefecture is no exception. In general, prices range from 1000 yen to 3000 yen, perhaps even less depending on where you go. All you need is some form of identification (Alien Registration Card) and whatever the fee amount is.
Until 1994 school children were required to be vaccinated, but today inoculation is optional. Japan is the fourth-largest flu vaccine user, but the rate among the elderly is only about 50 percent, which is the lowest of all industrialized countries. The average inoculation rate in these countries is between 70 percent and 80 percent. However, about 50 percent of infants in Japan get flu vaccines which is the world’s highest rate, but the U.S. and Canada are catching up with flu shots available free of charge.
What is a ”Flu Shot”?
The ”flu shot”—an inactivated vaccine (containing killed virus) that is given with a needle, usually in the arm. The flu shot is approved for use in people older than 6 months, including healthy people and people with chronic medical conditions. About 2 weeks after vaccination, antibodies that provide protection against influenza virus infection develop in the body.
When to Get Vaccinated
October or November is the best time to get vaccinated, but you can still get vaccinated in December and later. Flu season can begin as early as October and last as late as May.
The ability of flu vaccine to protect a person depends on the age and health status of the person getting the vaccine, and the similarity or ”match” between the virus strains in the vaccine and those in circulation. Testing has shown that the flu shot vaccine is effective at preventing the flu.
Vaccine Side Effects (What to Expect)
Different side effects can be associated with the flu shot.
The viruses in the flu shot are killed (inactivated), so you cannot get the flu from a flu shot. Some minor side effects that could occur are
•Soreness, redness, or swelling where the shot was given
•Fever (low grade)
If these problems occur, they begin soon after the shot and usually last 1 to 2 days. Almost all people who receive influenza vaccine have no serious problems from it.
http://www.qq.pref.yamaguchi.jp/qq/qq35egflsr.asp a site to look up the nearest medical facilites near you.
Some key words pertaining to flu shots:
Flu Vaccination: インフルエンザ予防接種 (Infuruenza Yobou Sesshu)
Influenza: インフルエンザ （Infuruenza）
Flu Season: インフルエンザが流行する (Infuruenza ga ryukou suru)
It’s a little late in the season to get a shot, but better late than never! So drag yourself out from under that kotatsu, bundle up, and take yourself to a nearby medical clinic. At least getting a flu shot will ensure that you won’t be spending your holiday season battling to get a doctor’s appointment or googleing medical terms in Japanese, and that it stays merry and bright.
Happy Holidays and Have a Happy New Year’s!