South Africa is expected to follow overseas influenza outbreak, here is how you should fight it this winter.
The best time to get your flu vaccination is by the end of April, before the freezing weather hits, says Clicks Pharmacist Waheed Abduhrahman.
“Overseas the influenza outbreak was severe, and we are expecting South Africa to follow this trend. Even if you had a flu shot last year, it is important to get it again, so that you are protected throughout the flu season.”
The flu vaccine is updated every year by the World Health Organization (WHO) and incorporates some of the most severe or virulent strains such as the H3N2 Singapore strain that needs to be warded off for the season.
“The best protection is prevention. Vaccinate, wash hands frequently, sneeze into tissues, boost your immune system with supplements, take vitamins and avoid contact with those affected,” he says.
Flu symptoms include fever, muscle pain, joint pain, headache, nausea, vomiting, sore throat, loss of sense of smell and fatigue.
“If you are sick, remember that you are a danger to those with weak immune systems, such as anyone one older than 65 years, pregnant women or new moms, children between six months and five years; anyone with a chronic illness like diabetes, asthma or heart disease. You should protect them by avoiding contact with them when you are sick.”
Anyone can get vaccinated, except babies younger than six months and anyone who already has a fever, has shown a past reaction to a vaccine, or allergic to eggs.He stresses that having a flu shot cannot give you flu.
“It is simply impossible to get the flu shot from the vaccine, as the vaccine does not contain the live flu virus. However, it takes up to two weeks for your body to develop antibodies to protect you from the flu, so you can pick up a cold or flu during this period if your immune system is low.”
Majority of medical aids do cover the cost of the flu shot, although some schemes only cover individuals who might be at an elevated risk of complications. Members of medical schemes can confirm eligibility with their medical aid advisors or speak to a pharmacist or a nurse for guidance.
Clicks Pharmacies: nation-wide
For more information: visit medical practitioners and pharmacies that offer flu vaccines.