Getting a flu shot is vital to ensure that you give yourself the best chance at not catching it. The 2018 winter season saw an intense outbreak of influenza in the Northern Hemisphere which resulted in the death of 30 infants in the USA alone according to Netcare. European residents were poorly prepared as the flu vaccine that was made available to the them did not provide adequate protection against the viruse's two new strains.
It is important to get vaccinated each year as each flu season is different.
In South Africa a new vaccine has been made available that currently accommodate changes in at least two of the three strains.
“The flu vaccine is usually available in South Africa in early March but delivery was delayed this year due to the fact that the vaccine had to be modified to better match the strains of flu that are currently doing the rounds,” notes Dr Annamarie Richter, medical director at Netcare’s Primary Care Division.
Dr Richter explains, “Each year flu vaccines are modified to comply with the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO). The vaccines available for the Northern Hemisphere’s flu season in 2014/2015 unfortunately proved to be only 23% effective in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).”
Dr. Richter advises that South Africans get vaccinated as soon as possible as this year's winter flu strains are proving to be more virulent than last year. Children older than six months, pregnant women and the elderly are particularly susceptible to the vulnerabilities of infection, it is therefor important that they get the flu vaccination sooner rather than later.
How do flu vaccines work?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the flu vaccine causes antibodies to develop in the body about two weeks after vaccination, in other words, it won't work right away. These antibodies provide protection against infection with the viruses that are in the vaccine. Traditional flu vaccines (trivalent vaccines) are made to protect against three flu viruses:
* Influenza A virus (H1N1)
* Influenza A virus (H3N2)
* Influenza B virus
Dr. Pete Vincent of the Netcare Travel Clinics and Medicross Family Medical and Dental Centre in Tokai notes a few misconceptions about flu vaccinations:
* The flu vaccine can give you the flu
This is simply impossible as the flu vaccine does not contain any of the live virus. You might
however experience some mild side effects, such as a slight fever, minor headache or soreness and
swelling at the injection site
* I won't get the flu if I get vaccinated
Whilst it is still the most effective way to protect you and your family against the flu, getting
vaccinated won't guarantee that you won't get the flu, however if you do manage to get the virus,
your symptoms will be milder
Dr. Pete Vincent has identified 3 potential advantages of the flu vaccine:
* The flu vaccine does make your symptoms milder if you happen to get sick, whilst it might not
always completely prevent contracting the virus
* The vaccine shields your from getting the flu and it also protects others around you that are a bit
more vulnerable, such as children, the elderly, people with certain chronic illnesses, in particular
asthma, lung disease, diabetes and heart disease and pregnant women
* Your risk to be hospitalized is greatly reduced by the flu vaccine
Why do I need a flu vaccine every year?
* The body's immune system response from vaccination tends to decline over time. An annual
vaccination is thus needed for optimal protection against the flu
* Flu viruses are constantly changing and so too is the formulation of the flu vaccine. It is reviewed
annually and updated to keep up with the constant change in the flu strain
* The flu vaccine can be life saving in children. A study done in 2017 showed that the flu vaccination
can significantly reduce a child's risk of dying from influenza
Where can I get vaccinated?
“It is particularly important that people wanting to get vaccinated choose reputable facilities. This will ensure that the vaccine includes those strains recommended by the WHO for the Southern Hemisphere’s flu season and will also guarantee that the vaccine is legally registered in South Africa. The vaccines are available from Netcare Travel Clinics, Medicross family medical and dental centres, Prime Cure clinics and the Netcare pharmacies located in the group’s hospitals,” concludes Dr Vincent. You can also visit your pharmacy to get vaccinated.
How can I protect myself and my family against getting the flu?
* Sanitize your home and office space
Cold and flu viruses spread like wild fire from person to person and often end up on surfaces and
objects that are touched regularly such as keyboards, printer buttons, door knobs, puzzle pieces, soft
toys, chairs, telephones, crayons, etc.
* Wash your hands often
Yes we know, everyone always says "wash your hands", but really, you need to wash your hands. :)
It is the simplest way to prevent infection or illness as your hands constantly come into contact
with other people, object and surfaces.
* Clean your cellphone
With technology making our lives easier, it also comes at a cost, a cost of potentially exposing
yourself to all types of germs. Germs are easily transferred from your hands to your face, it is
therefor important to wipe your phone as often as possible with an antiseptic wipe.
* Practice good health habits
Ensure that you get enough sleep each night. Exercise regularly and keep your diet as healthy as
possible. Eat fresh fruits and vegetables daily and drink lots of water throughout the day. Also
ensure that you take time out each day to de-stress and relax, even if it is just for a few minutes.
* Make use of the Sprinkle Spray Weekly Disinfecting Program
Our program has been designed to ensure maximum even coverage on all surfaces and objects in a
particular space. Our charged molecules create a wrap-around effect ensuring that everything is
covered by our non-toxic, food approved disinfectant solution. Facilities that have been on our
program for more than 3 months have seen an absenteeism reduction rate of up to 44.4%. Leading to
greater productivity and happy employees and children.
Contact us today for a no obligation quote.
(011) 791 4084